Food Solidarity

Last week my bin from On The Move Organics arrived and inside was a fennel bulb. This one right here. Now, I don’t hate fennel it’s, as my beloved likes to say, just not one of my favourite things. I do the bulk of the cooking for me and my family so our menu skews to what I like and do. There was a time not too long ago I would have just thrown it into the compost pile but this time, this time I thought for a minute about how far this organic bulb had travelled to get to me. It was grown in California USA shipped to London On Canada then packed up for me and brought to my door. Tossing out perfectly good food is wasteful and, I’m starting to think, pretty damn rude and also incredibly privileged.

I mean, I have the ridiculous luxury of choosing what I eat, not many people in my community can say that. We have hungry people who come from all over town for the local church’s Saturday night hot meal and here I am being picky about the fresh food that magically arrives on my doorstep every week.

Over a year ago I decided to get my first bin of veggies delivered and at first was a bit overwhelmed that the veggies kept coming. Now I get the bigger family bin and sometimes I order two. We go through all those veggies no problem now. In fact, much of our bin goes into the dinner meal the day it arrives. This week the zucchini, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes all went into the pasta sauce along with some of the kale. NOM NOM NOM

So last week the fennel went into a layer of potatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers, kale and celery that roasted under chicken topped with a jar of butter chicken sauce. I ate it, it was overall a good meal, I didn’t get excited biting into kale but it was fine.

It dawned on me that by ordering a fixed bin, by eating local in season when I can, I’m exercising a TINY bit of food solidarity with people who have no choice in what comes next. I pay more for my organic produce so that the local food system is sustainable. By investing a bit more, because I can, I can help grow food sovereignty. This choice to spend more means great jobs growing, distributing and cooking great food are available to people in my community. I can’t grow all of my own food. Sure I tinker at it because I the luxery of failure, so I’m not forced to eat in season but I want to shift more to that. Going with a place that has set bins is one way to give up some privilege, a tiny amount really, to eat what’s in season or available, like most people around the world do.

Food solidarity for me is recognising our food system is broken and we all have a part to play. I’m growing my part by volunteering in the community on The Carolinian Food Forest, growing some of my own food and ordering local, organic food when I can afford to. I can’t always and that’s ok too. so when I can afford it, It honour that opportunity and the fennel, well, the fennel tasted a lot sweeter for it,

Gender Matters: We Can Do Better


Yesterday, around the world, we celebrated International Women’s Day. I usually reflect on this day about the many incredible and resilient women I have had the privilege to get to know over the years from My Sisters’ Place.  This year, I found myself reflecting and feeling some grief and anger.

Late last week we were notified by the City of London that they would no longer fund My Sisters’ Place as part of their Housing First/Homelessness Prevention Strategy through the federal government’s Homeless Partnering Strategy funding. (They continue to receive $75,000 a year through the Community Homeless Prevention Initiative). This means we now rely on fundraising for 87% of the operating budget of My Sisters’ Place.

My Sisters’ Place began ten years ago when women of lived experience, service providers and community members got together to try to figure out how so many marginalized women in our community were falling through…

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Just do the damn dishes

This is for you, if you didn’t make the meal just do the damn dishes. I’ve timed incompetent toddlers and they can empty and load a dishwasher in under 30 minutes. That is a small investment of time to honour the wondrous bounty you just enjoyed. The dishes don’t do themselves.

I was talking with my beloved about why delaying or refusing to do the dishes, as the minions often do, vexes me so. It comes down to inputs and work dividends. So I sat down and thought about why doing the dishes is such a sweet deal for you, the food mooch, because, let’s face it, people who make food know this already.

So what does it take to make your meal happen?

1) the money and means to get the ingredients: that means either sweat to grow the food or other paid work (you could add the logistical tail of what it costs you to get to work, clothes, fees, taxes but let’s keep it simple) to buy the food. I’m a pretty frugal shopper and I cook from scratch so I can make a hearty, plentiful meal for my family for $20. I need to work 2 hours to net that plus I need to work enough to have transportation, bus or car is about $5 a round trip so another half hour. I won’t count commuting time to work. So far we are at $25 cash and 2.5 hrs of my time per evening meal.

2) a meal plan: I spend about 30 minutes a week planning meals based on what is coming in our vegetable bin, what’s on sale and what I already have in the freezer. I leave breakfast up to all for self serve but I make soups and other meals for our lunches as well as plan dinners. That’s about 2 minutes of planning per meal I make happen.

3) get the supplies: I take a few minutes to order our veggie bin and about 90 minutes to go and get supplies as well as unpack and put away the groceries. For 21 meals a week, since the supplies are also for snack and breakfast, I’ve invested 4 minutes of logistical support per evening meal.

4) make the damn meal: I chop, sautée, bake, boil…whatever. I can be pretty fast with the chopper but it takes me at least 20 minutes of prep, sometimes 40 minutes, so we will split the difference and say 30 minutes prep and 30 minutes cooking time for a total of an hour per evening meal actively prepping and cooking.

5) slinging the grub. I have to say, this is the most annoying part, calling the troops for supper, especially when they don’t respond immediately. The mental anguish of not numbing my pain with alcohol should be included but really, what price can you put on the last shred of your sanity? This takes about 10 minutes per meal, getting the dishes, cutlery and the food in front of the people.

6) haranguing the picky eater to eat the damn food. This sometimes takes 20 minutes. Sometimes I just sob quietly knowing that the fruits of my labours will be fed to the dogs, who eat feces with equal joy. I try not to take it personally. Let’s not count this, it’s just…too…much.

So lets see, it takes $25 in earned income and 3 hours and 46 minutes of my time to make that meal happen. Yes, let’s let that sink in for a bit. Let’s say that again, three hours and forty-six minutes. We haven’t counted the logistical costs of working the paid job nor mental anguish.

On a dishes light night you might spend 10 minutes collecting plates, scraping and rinsing them. Heck you may have to scrub a pot, wipe the countertops and take out the compost. Let’s say I make a complete disaster of the kitchen, you might, maybe, spend 30 minutes in total, so just do the damn dishes.


Haters Gonna Hate

Is it trolls just can’t abide a happy woman?

fit, fat, and feminist

For some reason there is something… or somethings… about me some people just really hate. I mean, I never expect to be everyone’s cup of tea. But honestly I am surprised at times the amount of obsessive hate I get directed at me. Particularly the obsessive part. Like the folks who obviously disagree with me and clearly straight up do not like me, yet still apparently read everything I write here and on other websites- and check all my workouts I post online. I mean, I have a blog specifically identified as being about feminism, I expect the random nasty comments. That some people really get so obsessed though that they don’t just say “haha fattie!!!!” (<- real comments I get often) and move on but keep following all my activities across various websites- that was a bit unexpected.

But I guess I should have expected, I’m fat, I’m a woman…

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Have Diva Cup, will travel? (Guest Post)


Have we blogged about periods? I feel like someone must have…Sam?

(Editor’s note: No. We haven’t. We’ve blogged a bit about menopause. See here and here. But not menstruation. That’s because we’re older than you!–Sam and Tracy)

This is making me yearn for menopause! Anyway, as I’m running, swimming and cycling for longer periods of time I’m noticing the advantages of using a Diva Cup to manage the fluid dynamics of an ever unpredictable period. The great thing is, even during longer races or workouts, I don’t need to bring extra supplies, just empty that cup into to johnny-on-the-spot, wash my hands and away I go. Going away for a weekend to run a race, have Diva Cup, will travel!

I’ve also recently become a fan of Lunapanties with their extra absorbent gusset. I’ve had random bladder incontinence walking into work and I can never tell when that will…

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Planning Our Visit to the Salad Bowl of Death

I’ll be watching from the sidelines through my fingers




I first referred to it as a salad bowl. It feels like you’re riding around on the inside of a wooden salad bowl.

My friend David added “of Death.” He did Track 1, Intro to Track, with me a few years ago. The first time you corner it’s hard to hold your line because it feels like you’re riding really fast into a wooden wall, Deep breath, hold the black line, and look through the corner. You can get some sense of what that feels like here.

It’s real name is the Forest City Velodrome.

“The Forest City Velodrome is an indoor cycling facility in London, Ontario, Canada. The building was constructed in 1963 as the London Gardens, home to the London Knights ice hockey team. In 1994 it was renamed London Ice House. In early 2005 it was remodeled into the Forest City Velodrome by local cycling…

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Rediscovering my political animal

When I left the military in 2004 I made a commitment to myself that I would leverage my medical pension and my privilege to make the world a better place. I had been medically released, diagnosed with recurring Major Depressive Disorder and deemed unfit for military service. The releasing medical officer recommended I find low stress work, that I wasn’t really cut out for the demands most people can handle.

Ya, screw that noise, I’m smart, capable and an overachiever, putting me out to pasture before I was 30 seemed like a bit of a waste. So when we moved to London in 2005 I started volunteering in all kinds of things, trying to decide what my “thing” was.

One piece I had really wanted to explore was myself as a political being so I researched the federal parties and picked the one that was the closest to what I agreed with and started volunteering. I did that for a few years, served as a campaign manager, worked with the riding association, heck, for a brief moment in time I was a federal candidate but then I got seriously burnt out. Campaigns are intense and I had gotten on board during minority governments and had helped out for federal, provincial and municipal campaigns. EVERY YEAR.

It’s the same people who are engaged, the whole 80/20 rule, 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the political organising. I got emotionally wrung out. I took a break. I even renounced my party membership. I just found no joy in politics any more.

So I voted, I paid attention. On message candidates are terribly boring and the media seems to only cover what the leaders do anyway.

This winter I found out someone I knew was running for municipal council and I got really excited. I figured I could help, I knew a bit about running campaigns. I was interested but I didn’t get excited until the campaign launch. DAMN. I just love campaigning!

I love the analysing, the planning, the door to door, heck I even like putting up signs. It’s so much fun.

So ponder this if you have elections this year, what kind of political animal are you? Can you find your pack? Pick someone to support, donate to their campaign, put up a sign and DEFINITELY volunteer somehow. It’s the one way everyone can influence campaigns and determine what kind of government you get at any level, how cool is that?

Want to join in on a blog hop?

I’m looking for bloggers to tag on my entry in a blog hop my friend Abby got me in on. You can see the format and her piece on Quills and Queries Editing.

If you’d like to participate drop me a line, I can’t publish mine until I find 2 more bloggers!

Turns out I don’t know many bloggers in real life…..

so so sad

Privileged ponderings: retirement plans aka life in my 60s

Since my beloved finished his PhD last year we’ve been trying to come up with a viable plan for when we stop working full time. I say that because I can’t imagine stopping paid work, there’s so many things I find interesting. I hope by the time I hit my mid 60’s I can have enough wealth to scale back my paid work.

Now all of this is an incredibly privileged problem to deal with, I have paid work that exceeds my basic needs and I have a pension from the military that is about what someone living on Ontario Disability Support Program would get. I’m very lucky. My beloved/manpanion/partner also scored a full time gig as he completed school so things are looking pretty good as we both slide into our 40’s this October.

The minions are teens which leaves us 5 years until they are both in post-secondary and about 8 years until they are both done an initial degree/certification. So, if my health holds, my budget should reduce quite drastically and theoretically I’ll be at the height of my earning potential, so why look at scaling back paid work at all? Well, for once, it’s not about me.

I’ve been watching my friends, parents and extended family as they enter their 60’sand one thing that strikes me is the amount of caregiving that they are doing. Their parents are in their 80’s and 90’s, a time of increasing health care and practical support needs. They have siblings living with disabilities that mean they need more than an occasional visit. They are helping adult children through this tough economy and, of course, spending time with their grandchildren. Most folks who are doing this in their 60’s are still working full time, that’s a lot of activity to fit in!

In preparation for having as much time on this good green earth as possible I’m looking first to my self-care because, as an asshole in remission, I’m quite an angry person and wound pretty tight. That is the part of an A type personality that will kill you young. So screw that, I’m living to 100 and no way am I eating cat food the last 40 years.

So am learning to grow more of my own food to both save money but also become a little bit self reliant and need a little less income. I’m exercising and listening to my doctor about my blood pressure and investing time, thought and money in my longevity. If my 60’s are going to be a caregiving ultra marathon I need to be in shape physically and mentally. I think about what leads to elder abuse and I can totally see that slippery slope if I don’t work through all my issues.

I also want to have the wealth to choose to move if my folks or in-laws need us or help those future grandkids. If the minions don’t breed I’ll just need to find other people’s grandkids to spoil.

I’m lucky to have so many people in my life who show my what life in my 60’s can look like. Friends who are learning new things all the time, having fun and pulling it all off most of the time and when they can’t they ask for help.

I want to measure my wealth in retirement by the pounds of food grown, the decibels of laughter, the friends and family at my table. Yes, cash matters but maybe it’s not as much a focus as the time I get to do it and who I get to do that with.