For more, see Silent Hunting.
Some photos by Ольга Коваленко
I just finished peanut butter on toast and am drinking a can of Pilsner. I can’t say that I’m glad to be home.
Every kilometre closer to home I got, the worse the food was. I left the San Francisco apartment at 9am, unable to find a Mexican restaurant that was open, so instead I got a pretty decent deli sandwich and the hangover-fighting goodness of a coconut water. I bought three apples at the Farmer’s Market, an It’s It at the tobacco store. Upon arriving in Denver, slightly nauseous and reeling, I ordered a 12″ cheese pizza from Dominos. It was delivered to me undercooked; I ate the whole pizza. The apples were tough like biting into cowhide, and void of flavour like sucking on a brick of styrofoam. And now I am home, sipping overpriced, mediocre beer (I fully support taxing alcohol and tobacco in order to never have to learn the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, something no one could explain to me whilst in the USA), and eating dumpstered bread.
Cover me in tacos and call me Delicious Susan.
Still my stomach is sour and flinching from the vacation-titled reward of beer breakfasts and taco-dominated diet. But I will persevere.
With the exception of my 5-day food-and-beer bender, the times I have eaten the best, most balanced, full meals in the past seventeen days were the times that I went grocery shopping in the dumpster. Or to mom’s house. The quality of the food differs greatly between the two, however the quantities and personal cost differ in no way. Limitless and free. I’ve been meaning to tell my mother this. That I once cooked her a meal with my girlfriend in Montreal that was composed largely of dumpster food items. Free, shared, washed, dumpster foods. For a while she had a photograph of me on the fridge, rooting around in the dumpster. Dad took the photo while they were in Montreal. It was staged, they didn’t find me like that.
I haven’t purchased a vegetable in the last three months. Unlike my roommates, this doesn’t mean that I haven’t eaten a vegetable in the last three months. I have grown them myself. And though it looks like I’m wasting away, I am doing so in as healthy and cheap a way as possible. But through spending time with those that eat properly, and being suggested TED Talks about Mitochondria, it becomes evident that my eating is for survival, very rarely for enjoyment until I binge in a city with forty taco spots in a ten block radius, and just scrapes the surface of health. These friends, and this video, bring up the argument that food is likely the most important thing you spend your money on, and it directly affects your future, and that of the environment. But I’d rather put my nuts in the microwave and eat canned refried beans. I don’t have time otherwise. I’ve got movies to watch, screens to worship.
One of the greats was in town just before I left, a friend with whom I always end up talking at length about food. I delivered dahl to her at the shittiest bar on earth, and she recently returned the favour recently with cookies, cheesecakes, and more. She suggested that people get offended when they are called out on their bad food habits, likely because it is something that, as supposedly responsible adults, they should know how to do properly. They should know the difference between a bag of microwave burritos, and a homegrown burrito, and when they notice their foolishness and their laziness, it is not as easy to swallow as a bite of a cheesy, warm, mushy microwave Mexican-food.
I will likely continue to waste away, each week my pants droop further so that my shoelace belt will eventually wrap my waist twice. But it will be done in great health, with nothing purchased or found gone to waste. I will undoubtedly continue to live and eat frugally, so that I can save up and make up for my inadequate diet while I am partying in cities cooler than my own. Or maybe I will eat better, finally fill out my Medium-sized t-shirts and it will force you to ask the question that my father asked me a few weeks ago at the University lecture: “Have you ever seen an obese environmentalist?”
I’m still waiting for the punchline. Likely about dumpster soups or eating recycled bicycle parts. Let’s hear it.
Ice cream and beer. The two finest dietary creations in history thanks to the invention of the grain mill and the ingenuity of squirting the lactic liquid from the tit of a large animal or soybean. Some have even been brave enough to mix both into one common glass, but I prefer to mix them in my stomach. When it is a good night with friends, or a lonely night with myself, the greatest down to the lamest, these two often end up conversing in my belly.
I saw a band play on Coney Island one time, their best song was ‘We’ve Got Fireworks and Beer.’ When I am an old, fat, John Goodman look-alike, I will write the Coney Island hit, ‘We’ve Got Ice Cream and Beer. And It’s Running Down My Leg.’
In an attempt to reach the peak of my physicality, that is, to avoid a daily case of the shits and to avoid passing out after standing up every time, I have been looking into nutritional deficiencies lately. Every day around 7pm, just after eating a supper of either dal and rice or dal-burgers on a bun, it seems like my body runs out of carbohydrates and is surviving only by feeding off of the slight amount of fat and/or protein that remains on my bones. Despite, or because of, all the ice cream and beer, I am thinning. Here are some deficiencies that might be currently affecting me:
Iron, a common deficiency for someone that doesn’t eat the environmentally-slaying red meats. Iron can be found in lentils, spinach, molasses. I eat lentils four times a week, spinach two, so I thought I’d go out and try some molasses. The so-sweet-it’s-bitter viscous by-product I now pour into my oatmeal one tablespoon at a time, to create a coffee-coloured slurry that goes down smoother than a coffee-coloured beer. At 8am.
Beer, a common deficiency for someone in Canada that doesn’t like spending money. Although I maybe mention it 1.3 times per blog post, I am a far step away from being addicted, unless you can be addicted to something without ever using it, because I think about it a lot. I’ve been craving an evening to cut loose, like the good old Eastview days, consisting of summer and too many skunky beer. Due to a lack of energy as highlighted above, and a lack of friends and appropriate events, the deficiency will likely continue.
Protein, another common vegetarian problem, and another piece of nutrition that could be solved with a gulp of cow-blood. Another one of life’s problems that is easily solved with peanut butter and lentils. (Lentils and Peanut butter, the answer to the following issues: climate change, Conservative government, Instagram, tank tops, affordable housing, protein deficiencies). Almond butter may be substituted for those that like to compromise taste and tradition.
While at the ice cream shop one day, I marvelled at the invention of the ice cream cone. Bland and dry alone, infinitely delicious when dripping with frozen cream, sugar and artificial flavouring. Why not make every disposable plate ever used into a somewhat nutritional, enriched-flour and tapioca-flour based staple food? I just solved world hunger and unnecessary paper/plastic waste in one brilliant invention. I’ll wait for and accept my Nobel Prize at Dairy Queen, Sask Drive and Elphinstone.
Ice cream and beer. The two finest night-caps in history, thanks to the invention of hanging out and the ingenuity of gluttony. Put them together and what have you got? Two competing dragons of flavour that steal money that should be spent on properly dealing with nutritional deficiencies. But summer isn’t about deficiencies. It’s about a surplus of good, outdoor-based times.
So pass the beer-battered Blizzard.
Eating food makes a monumental statement.
I can tell many things about a person based on what foods are on his or her plate at the beginning of a meal, and how much is left on his or her plate at the end of the meal. The variety, the amount, the colour, the condiments. That being said, what is on my plate coincides directly with my personality, weak-willed and often spicy.
Arriving at Primetime on a Sunday afternoon with a cream cheese container of chana was a common Sunday afternoon activity last year. We would sit around talking about how much Courtney misses pizza, and how good Jacynthe’s perogies are, and compare the sesame seed bagels from down the street. We would tell stories of mothers and grandmothers and vegan delights and how we enjoy our diets luxuriously and also frugally. The afternoon would always end up with me walking in the rain to Pizza du Parc or the depanneur or the PA for some snacking to accompany the yellowed popcorn and flat and stale beer.
In all the time we spend talking about food, and all the time we spend preparing, eating and gathering around it, we usually spend more time talking about how much more we ate than we should’ve, or the colour and shape of our faecal matter. We often neglect to talk about how eating a ‘balanced diet’ is undoubtedly excessive and irresponsible. We neglect to talk about the 300 families standing in line on Winnipeg Street waiting for moldy bread and deformed potatoes. We ignore the fact that we eat meat and desserts for nothing more than our own personal satisfaction when they are either cruel, unhealthy or completely unnecessary for survival. We dance around our prepackaged food dishes, plastic wrapped and microwave friendly foods that are more chemically based and chromosome shifting than actually nourishing. We label those who eat differently as idealist hippies looking for attention. We eat selfishly.
The privileged are no longer in a position to eat only for enjoyment or survival. We must now eat to make a statement. We must now eat to make a difference. By skipping meals, reducing or eliminating our meat intake, eating locally, donating to food banks, sharing with family and friends, and eating less, we can show exactly how much of an impact our three times a day routine can have. Like most things that we have in abundance, an abuse of these: food, technology, electricity, water, is an insult to those around the world that lack them. It is ignorant to say that we are blessed to live in a land with an abundance of food and take it no further than that. We must realize our extreme fortune and change our bad habits of excess and waste and then we must share with others.
Food is meant to be enjoyed but not abused. We must eat with our brains and not with our mouths. And if we decide to actually eat brains, then we must do so in moderation, and we must consider those without an abundance of brains to be eaten.
This year I donated to help in the East African Food Crisis through Oxfam.ca.