Canada, We have a Fucking Problem

Aboriginal Rally 20131004

Carol-Ann Moses takes part in a rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, October 4, 2013 by the Native Women’s Assoiciation of Canada honouring the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

In Canada, every 4 days a woman is killed by a family member, usually a male family member. Let that sink in for a moment – every 4 days a woman dies. We have a serious problem. Indigenous and LGTBQ women are over-represented.

Four young girls in Northern SK have committed suicide over the last number of weeks. Four young girls who could see nothing to live for – children who are so broken they can’t find anything to look forward to, children without plans for tomorrow or the rest of their lives.
How is this possible? Why is there a war on women? What have we done? Why do so such a significant number of men feel that they need to kill us? (I know there are good men out there, I know. If you are a good man, it’s time to stand up to the casual sexism, racism and misogyny you see everyday. That’s your job as a good man).
The government’s response to the CRISIS in North SK? Send in 6 additional counsellors until the end of the year. Great, 10 weeks of help from outsiders who don’t understand the culture or the youth.
None of this is good enough. I am completely fed up with the status quo. Things are not changing, they are entrenching. Toxic masculinity is on display every single day and I am tired of it. So, very tired of it. I have been working and fighting against violence against women since the first memorial for the women killed in Montreal – that was 1990. Where is the progress? Eating disorders are much more common as young woman (and increasingly men) try to match a fake, photoshopped image of who they are supposed to be.
We have an inquiry underway to find out what has happened to 1000 First Nations women. How do 1000 women disappear and no one notice or give a damn? What if it were 1000 men? What would the response be? Oh wait, there wouldn’t be one because it would never fucking happen. Why are women so fucking disposable? I am angry, so very, very angry.
Published in: on October 21, 2016 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On Jian Ghomeshi and our Society’s Collective Amnesia

So how long do we think it will be before Jian Ghomeshi is back in the public sphere with his dignity intact? Most people, having heard Kathryn Borel speak the other day, think it will never happen. But happen it will.


Our society has a unique way of forgiving men for sexual assaults. There is a whole long line of celebrities who continue to make films, sell music and do stand up comedy who are pedophiles and serial rapists. In fact, if you compare someone like Ghomeshi to Bill Cosby, the former is a minor player. Or look at Woody Allen – not only did he sexually abuse his children he married his adopted daughter and people still flock to his movies and other celebrities line up behind him. Or Michael Jackson who was charged with pedophilia and he paid off the parents of numerous of children for things that happened behind the closed doors of Neverland. He has now taken Elvis’ title as the King. There has even been work (and redemption) for Mike Tyson after he served jail time for rape.

What does this say about our society? Well clearly we value men far more than we value women. Men are allowed to get away with raping, assaulting and sodomizing women and children and they will still have careers. They may have to say a few mea culpas, appear to do the right thing (counselling anyone??) and then they will have their lives back.

I am not saying that Jian Ghomseshi is on the same level as the other so-called celebrities (or rapists as I like to call them). He is not as talented and he was in a small, backwater market. He will come out of this no doubt and we will all be there to welcome him back. Well, except me, I won’t be. I am pledging here and now that I will boycott anything and anyone who has anything to do with Jian Ghomeshi ever again in the same way I boycott Woody Allen, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Mike Tyson, Roman Polanski…

Are you with me?


Ode to Dr. Coodin

I have had a dental phobia since I was a kid. My childhood dentist looked like Vincent Price and was creepy as fuck. Plus he would drill my bottom teeth when they were not frozen. I once had to have 2 teeth pulled on the bottom to make space, my bottom teeth do not freeze, I was severely traumatized.

In my teens and 20s I avoided the dentist with everything I had until it caught up to me. I had a choice between having them all pulled or enduring the dental work. Ativan in hand, I endured hours in the dentist chair. My bottom teeth still didn’t freeze. To fix my front bottom teeth they once had to go so deep to inject right into the nerve so they could work on them. I was again severely traumatized.

Fast forward to our move to Vancouver in the early aughts and a new dentist entered our lives: Dr. Arnie Coodin. Dr. Coodin was a simple dentist – he didn’t whiten teeth or do any cosmetic procedures. He had 2 chairs – one for cleaning and one for fixing. He did everything himself. Up until Dr. Coodin, I could not stand to have my teeth cleaned and would never let them scale them. He made a deal with me – we started with one ¼ of my mouth at a time. He had a dictum he followed: “If I hurt you, you will not come back.” Now most dentists have a hygienist who cleans all the teeth. Not Dr. Coodin. He said cleaning teeth relaxed him. Over the course of a decade or so, Dr. Coodin got me used to having my teeth cleaned, he even did root planing and it was all fine. I owe him a huge debt of appreciation.

Eventually Dr. Coodin retired (we still drove to Vancouver to see him even living in MR). I was panic-filled. We had to find a new dentist. We started going to Valley Fair Dental because of a car ad I saw that said they ‘catered to cowards’ and offered ‘sedation’ dentistry’. Both Deb and I have had quite a bit of work done there. If it involves my bottom teeth, I opt for sedation. If it is on the top and fairly simple, I can tolerate the anesthetic needle to get it done.

Now, Paul scales and cleans my teeth. He told me today he can’t believe I ever used to be phobic. I told him it was all because of Dr. Coodin.

Published in: on March 16, 2016 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Books I have read this year

slide_5794_78322_largeSecret Language of Doctors by Dr. Brian Goldman
I was kind of meh about this book. While he did deliver on some of the ‘secret language’ mostly the book focuses on how much doctors dislike the obese, the elderly and the mentally ill. Want to be treated well by doctors? Don’t fall into one of those 3 categories.

Laughing all the Way to the Mosque by Zaraq Nawag
This book is written by the woman who brought “Little Mosque on the Prairie” to CBC. I mostly enjoyed this book. My main criticism is that it treated some serious issue in a trite manner.

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
I devoured this book. One would think by the length of time she spent in captivity (15 months) that it would be drudgery and boring. It was anything but. Lindhout studied all her captors and was able to bring the reader along for the ride. At times, it was like the reader was right there with her. There are people who are critical of her for going to Somalia with her lack of experience. Regardless, the book is a great read. I highly recommend this book.

Creatures of the Rock by Andrew Peacock
I found this book to be a pale imitation of James Herriot’s far better books.

The Night of the Gun by David Carr
This is another book I devoured. David Carr worked for the New York Times for many years. Prior to becoming a stable adult though, David led a life of drug addiction and petty crime. The birth of his twin girls to his junkie girlfriend forced him to sober up and get his life together. To write this book, Carr did not rely on his own memory (which was quite faulty). Instead he interviewed people from his past, relied on court and other documents to substantiate the accounts. This was an amazing book. Carr recently had a heart attack and died shortly after a NY Times event.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui
Old world meets new world in this wonderfully funny and engaging memoir about her mother written by Lui. I loved this book. It was hilariously funny at times and very emotional at others. Do yourself a favour and read this book!

Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong about Everything? By Timothy Caulfield
Not being a big fan of Paltrow’s lifestyle blog/newsletter Goop, I was looking forward to reading this book. I was disappointed though when less than half of the book focused on Paltrow. The rest seemed to be about all the other wacky things people do that have no basis in science.

Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland by Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus with Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan
This was a great book. It was written by 2 of the women held hostage in that Cleveland house of horrors.
Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness by Michelle Knight
This is the book written by the third woman who was held hostage in Cleveland. It seems that conflict amongst the women meant that they all didn’t collaborate on one book. This book was also interesting. Michelle was held in captivity the longest.

They Left Us Everything by Plum Johnson
This was a really great book about family and the secrets a house holds. The author is tasked with cleaning out her parent’s house after her mother dies. A task that she thinks will take 6 weeks takes about a year. She learns a great deal along the way about her parents and the meaning of family.

There were a trio of escape from North Korea books:

A Thousand Miles to Freedom by Ensun Kim and The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonso Lee
These books were very similar. The both escaped North Korea via the northern border with China. Invariably they face hardship, fear and eventually make their way to South Korea. While these stories were interesting they were both quite similar.

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park
This book was hands down the best in the ‘escape from North Korea’ genre (is it a genre?). This young woman becomes the head of her family even though she is the youngest. She does this through her intelligence and ability to figure her way out of situations. She and her mother eventually end up being taken by human traffickers. She also eventually makes it to South Korea and is able to mostly unite her family.

Rock Meet Window: A Father-Son Story by Jason Good
Jason Good is an erstwhile comedian. He is mostly known for the blog he did for a year with his reflections on parenthood. He wrote this book while he was looking after his father at the end of his life. It has some good moments.

Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs
Burroughs is best known for his first memoir Running with Scissors. This book chronicles the author getting sober. It was not his best.

Gut: The Inside Story of our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders
This was a transformative book for me. The author is a young woman (25 at the time of the book) who noticed that there was little written about the gut that was accessible for the average person. Her answer was to write this book. What comes across from this book is the importance of gut bacteria.

The Emperor Far Away by David Eimer
This was a really interesting book about minority populations in China. We often think of China as a monolithic culture but this is far from the truth. There are many groupings of minority populations especially where China borders other countries. Beijing treats these groups differently with those in Tibet being the most oppressed.

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill
This was a very, very long book or maybe it just seemed that way. Miscavige-Hill (niece to David Miscavige) grew up in Scientology. It is really clear how cult-like Scientology is, complete with its own language. There are some very disturbing things that the author relates including her being responsible for the medical welfare of a group of children at age 7.

Doctor memoir figure rather prominently:

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh
This was a great, gentle and insightful book. The author is a neurosurgeon in Britain. He admits to arrogant and boorish behaviour in the twilight of his career. Each chapter is the title of a surgery and usually centers on an interesting patient or a lesson he learned. Great book.

Living and Dying in Brick City: An ER Doctor Returns Home by Samspon Davis with Lisa Frazier Page
The author is a black ER doctor in New Jersey. I enjoyed it.

Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflection on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy, MD
The author not only addressed being a black doctor in America but also the implications of race in health issues. Diagnosed at a very young age with hypertension, he uses his own experience to highlight medical issues faced, in high numbers and severity, by African Americans.

Without You There is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim
Another book about North Korea. The author poses as a missionary to be able to teach at a university in Pyeongyang. The purpose of this school is to teach the North Korean elite to speak English. While her whole purpose in being in North Korea was to write this book, it does not detract from the quality. The book is primarily comprised of her observations about what happens to people when they lie all the time. Living in North Korea requires one to be able to suspend disbelief about everything from the wealth of North Korea (it is actually poor) to the military skill of the ‘great leaders’ (who actually have no military skill). Great book.

Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World by Brooke Borel
This was a great book about bedbugs, including a history. Great book. Oh and if you ever get bed bugs don’t use chemicals to get rid of them. A hand steamer is your friend.

The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
Another father dying memoir. A lot of people raved about this book. I thought it was just ok. I think Kinew has great potential as an author he just needs to age more.

Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin by Nicole Hardy
I loved this book. It was about a woman who grew up in the Mormon church and maintained her virginity. As she moves through her 20s and into her 30s with no marriage proposals coming to her she begins to question her beliefs.

Open Heart, Open Mind by Clara Hughes
Clara Hughes had a hardscrabble childhood and deals with mental illness. Those are pretty much the takeaways of her book which seems to be of the flavour of: ‘I went here and did this’ and ‘I went there and did that’. She was an Olympic medalist in both speed skating and cycling.

My Leaky Body by Julie Devaney
The author has ulcerative colitis and it is about her journey through the medical system. I completely related to everything she addressed especially the ‘imposter’ syndrome. I honestly felt like she wrote the book for me.

Mayor Rob Ford: Uncontrollable by Mark Towhey and Johanna Schneller
The author was part of Ford’s campaign team and eventual chief of staff. He details Ford’s spiral down into crack cocaine use and alcoholism in excruciating detail. Every. Single. Detail. I would have felt sorry for Towhey except he was instrumental in getting that train-wreck elected.

Published in: on December 31, 2015 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

I’m back…maybe

On the cusp of my forties, I was just beginning what would be a decade long battle with ulcerative colitis. I was fatigued, losing blood and scared as hell of what the future held for me. I was struggling to work and do much more than just survive. I ended up taking 6 months off of work (thankfully I could get a 6-month leave when I worked for the government) hoping that would restore some health. It didn’t.

Ulcerative colitis continued to be front and centre. I was hospitalized twice in an 18-month period once because the disease was trying to kill me and the second time because the cure was worse than the disease. Add in 5 years of being bullied at work and I was a mess. I was on anti-depressants for the first time in my life. As well as a major dose of another anxiety drug. I needed to sleep a minimum of 12 hours a night and if I didn’t get it, I had a hard time functioning. Finally in August of 2013 I was off work and not sure I would ever get back.

Fast forward 16 months (not much tell about my time off work because I barely left the house) and I realized that my dream of working for myself was never going to happen. I lack the motivation to do anything unless I have a deadline. I just couldn’t impose them on myself. When I decided to start looking for work, I had to make myself work for 10 minutes on my resume per day. Thankfully it didn’t take last long and I was applying for jobs. I started one in January of 2015.

Now on the cusp of my fifties, I feel better than I have in years. I no longer need 12 hours sleep at night. I actually woke up this morning after only 8.5 hours. My hemoglobin is steadily climbing out of the low territory it has inhabited for years (anemias of chronic disease was the official diagnosis). I am almost off one of my anti-anxiety meds with no increase in anxiety episodes. I have been noticing these little changes and daring to hope they were going to add up to something big. And here we are.

Published in: on May 31, 2015 at 11:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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This is a real thing in the world: The emotional eating prevention bra


Is Walter White guilty of emotional eating?

Is Walter White guilty of emotional eating?

Microsoft, the company that is famous for making expensive and bad operating systems, has now decided to turn its collective hive mind to prevent the scourge of emotional eating in women by making a smart bra. Because of course us lady folk are not able to tell the difference between eating for hunger and eating because we have an emotion. According to Microsoft:

The research is based on the idea that people eat not just when they are hungry but also for a host of emotional and habitual reasons. The goal was to provide a system that could intervene before the person turns to food for emotional support.

The trope this device is pandering to is that women are so overtaken by our emotions that we need something to intervene and tell us we are emotional before we raid the refrigerator. As slaves to our emotions, we are also, apparently, slaves to eating. We don’t eat only when we are hungry, we eat to cope with all sorts of things. Here is a great example from the article:

Sally has been home from work for a few hours, and she finds herself rather bored. An application on Sally’s mobile phone has also detected that she is bored by reading her physiological state through wearable sensors. Since this mobile application has previously learned that Sally is most susceptible to emotional eating when she is bored, the application provides an intervention to distract Sally and hopefully prevent her from eating at that moment.

In this lovely example, ‘Sally’ needs some gadget to tell her that she is bored and she should not run to the kitchen for a snack. She is unable to regulate her own behaviour or have insight into it. I am sure ‘Sally’ has a fully functioning brain that can easily discern the difference between eating because she is hungry versus eating because she is bored.

Emotional eating prevention?

Emotional eating prevention?

The very idea that women need to wear a special bra that will measure our heart rate and level of perspiration to alert us that we shouldn’t eat right now as it would be for emotional reasons is ludicrous. First, the very idea that feeling complex emotions could be reduced to sensing how much we sweat or increases in our heart beat is ridiculous. A woman could be out for a walk or laughing hysterically or doing stuff around the house only to have her bra beep at her warning her against emotional eating. The idea that women’s (or men’s) emotional response could be reduced to physical symptoms is incredibly simplistic and insulting.

Conflating food intake with emotional response panders to the worst tropes about women. The idea that we are all ruled by our emotions and stuffing our faces with food as a means to cope is demeaning. This device seeks to be a solution without a bona fide problem. It casts women as beings ruled only by emotion engaging in destructive behaviour without any idea of what they are doing. I think every person (in first world countries anyway) has eaten when they are upset or bored. But this device is only being marketed to women. Interestingly to have the machine learn your emotional patterns, women would use a mobile app to “to log their mood and food intake. There were reminded via text to log emotion every hour, at least ten times per day.” So pretty much for every waking hour women would be slave to this app. This is just another, in a  long line of things, that seek to make women tractable thereby reducing our effectiveness in our professions and other activities.

The other message contained her is that it is only women who engage in inappropriate emotional eating. There is no companion her and his devices; no boxers or ‘tighty whiteys’ with the same device.* Or perhaps the developers think that it is only people with boobs who have an emotional eating problem.

There are so many messages women receive on a daily basis that tell us we are not good enough, thin enough, beautiful enough nor smart enough. Now we need wear a special bra that will connect with our phones to deliver yet another message of how we don’t measure up. This device is yet another thing to police women ensuring that we are slaves to self-improvement lest we take our energy and focus it somewhere else like challenging the very structures and messages that keep us down.

The one sliver of hope here is that the device is being developed by Microsoft. The chances of it actually working as advertised are slim. And, even if it sort of works Microsoft will update the operating system and eliminate the ‘Start Button.’

*As I am writing this, I am getting a vision of Walter White in Breaking Bad in the first couple of episodes where he strips off his pants and cooks meth in his underwear. I can just imagine him wearing one of these devices as he is sweating in the New Mexico heat and his device going off, reminding him to log his food and emotional state while it is telling him that he needs to put the Cheetos down because he is emotional right now!

Published in: on December 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘NaBloPoMo wrap up’

I have done NaBloPoMo almost every year since I started blogging in 2007. I have to say that this year was the most challenging by far. I suspect that not feeling well and coping with the emotional fall out of being bullied and then losing my job for complaining made it much more difficult. That being said, I am happy I stuck with it and managed a post every day in November.

I am hoping to keep some of the momentum going. I will attempt to blog at least once a week going forward. I may highlight some more of my cooking adventures as I enjoy writing up those posts. Of course the dogs will also figure prominently. I am also anticipating an uptick in the political postings with all the scandals going on and a federal election in 2015. There is also the BC provincial leadership race coming up soon. And I am sure Rob Ford is not done yet!

Thanks to all my readers for sticking with me through November. If there are any topics you would like me to cover in upcoming posts please let me know in the comments. Topic suggestions are always appreciated!

Published in: on November 30, 2013 at 1:49 pm  Comments (1)  

Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘EWM edition’


Derek Hough and Amber Riley

Derek Hough and Amber Riley


This is day 4 of of prednisone for me. I really struggle when I have to take this drug – it ramps up my anxiety like crazy and makes me very emotional. Yesterday I was in tears when my GI doc’s office called and suggested an emergency scope for next week. I don’t need another colonoscopy. In fact, it was the one I had in April that seemed to start this all off. I was also under increased stress at work starting then as well so it is hard to know what to blame for sure. Being bullied certainly makes it worse. Losing my job as a result of the complaint I made about the bully definitely ramped things up more. I was so sick in September, I could hardly eat. I don’t know what the answer is but I am getting sick of being so sick all the time.

We have been going swimming at our local pool in the last couple of months. Both of us love it and it is such good exercise. The only thing that annoys me about the pool are these old, entitled white men (EWM). They stare at us and make us feel quite uncomfortable. Today, we were treated to one of the most annoying EWMs to date. He seemed to relish going up and down the pool with his flutter board kicking his feet above the water to let everyone know he was there. I suspect he missed that lesson where you are taught to kick under the water. Even the life guard was eyeing him funny. Today we also tried out the other pool. It is much warmer and has this amazing water fall that gives the most amazing massage. I just stood there moving my shoulders all around. It felt so good!

Stevie Ray is doing so well. She has learned to sleep through the night without making a mess so we graduated her from the x-pen to a crate in our bedroom. We tend to sleep longer hours than normal so the fact that she can hold her bladder all night is a huge step forward. It has also improved her toilet training overall. She also regulates her food intake; she doesn’t eat more than she needs. This is so different from the  starved, neglected rescued dogs to which we are more accustomed. Quite often those dogs come here and think they have gone to heaven and gain weight. It really demonstrates the difference between a healthy puppy and a rescued dog who has been through hell. Every once in a while it is nice to be reminded that healthy dogs do exist.

So Amber Riley won Dancing with the Stars. I am finding it interesting that the usual flood of post victory blogs and news stories are very quiet. Is it because Amber is a fat, African-American? She certainly did not fit the mould of the usual DWTS star winners. I think she has done so much for young women who have now witnessed one of their own, who probably looks more like them than they look like Kellie Pickler (last season’s winner).

Published in: on November 29, 2013 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘slow food’ edition

When I was a child, New Year’s Day at my grandmothers was the best meal of the holiday season. She would make a ham. Our family never went for the ready to eat variety, it was always a pork picnic shoulder; the kind of ham you really need to cook. The smell of ham cooking would waft through her house and my mouth would water at the though of dinner. As an adult, I usually cook a couple of hams a year. The next day, I turn the leftovers, the bones and the broth from cooking the ham into split pea soup.

Ham in the pot, fat side up. You can see the mesh bag that you will remove later.

Ham in the pot, fat side up. You can see the mesh bag that you will remove later.

The cooking starts off with boiling the ham for about 3 hours. This does two things: it cooks the ham and reduces the amount of salt left in the meat. Most pots are not big enough to accommodate a ham completely. It mostly fit in my Le Crueset and the heavy lid pressed down on it. About halfway through the cooking time, it is important to turn the ham over. I usually start it with the fat side up. Turning the ham can be a little tricky so it is best to take your time. I find that using to large carving forks works quite well. Once the ham is done boiling, transfer it to the baking pan (make sure to keep the liquid from boiling the ham to make soup). In my case, I put it in my oval orange Le Creuset baking pan. At this point you need to remove the mesh bag around the ham. Make sure to take your time, especially on the meat side so you don’t lose too much of the meat. There is also a piece of skin on the fat section of the ham that also needs to be removed.


The next steps is where the magic happens. I make a glaze for the ham from:

1 can of frozen orange juice concentrate

1 cup of brown sugar

¼ of a cup cornstarch

¼ cup of yellow mustard

½ teaspoon of ground cloves

Cooked glazed ham ready for carving and eating!

Cooked glazed ham ready for carving and eating!

All measurements are approximate as I kind of just throw it all in a bowl and mix it up. My grandmother would take a lot of time with her ham, decorating it with pineapple rings, maraschino cherries and whole cloves and then she would put the glaze on it. It is important to put the glaze on when the ham is hot as it will stick to the meat because the cornstarch will thicken it. I put ½ of the glaze on the ham and put it in the oven at about 325 degrees. The ham needs to bake for about 1 and ½ hours in a covered pan. Halfway through I put more glaze on it. It is important to watch the ham as the sugar content in the glaze can cause it to burn. You also have to ensure that the ham is in there long enough for the glaze to set. If you don’t cook it long enough the glaze will have a chalky texture because the cornstarch has not been cooked long enough. Once the ham is done, remove it to a cutting board. If you want gravy from the glaze (and trust me you do, salty and sweet!) you will likely need to thin it out a little bit with some water so it is the consistency of gravy. We generally serve ham with scalloped potatoes and some other vegetables.

Check back tomorrow for the pea soup process!

Published in: on November 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘ not so fast, Not So Fast’ edition

Whether you want to eat it or not.

Whether you want to eat it or not.

I heard an interview with Shira McDermott, Chief Founder and Faster at Not So Fast on CBC with Stephen Quinn. The topic of the interview was Vancouver’s first Kale Drive. Based on the premise that there is lots of kale in people’s gardens right now, the plan, if you can call it that, is to have gardeners harvest their kale and bring it to drop off their unused kale between 10-2 on December 1.* Then they plan to turn the kale into a powder to be then used to ‘fortify’ the community meals made in the DTES. Basically they will bake the kale until it is dried, grind it, and incorporate it into the meals made by community organizations. Sounds like a great plan hey? And, as we all know kale is a ‘superfood’ as McDermott told us over and over again. Although, interestingly, she really didn’t know why kale was called a superfood except, and I quote, ‘it is very nutritional’.

On the surface this sounds like a great idea until you start to dig around a little. Just because some group of well-meaning but oppressive folks decide that people in the DTES need something in their diet does not make it right. In fact, it is extremely oppressive. There are so many assumptions built into this premise but the worst one is based on the idea that we know better than them when it comes to nutrition. We think you need this and we are going to force it on you through your community meals. Did they ask people on the DTES if they want to eat kale? I think not. They are operating from their place of mostly white and middle class privilege. The liberal ‘do-gooder’ attitude is infamous for tromping on people’s agency and dignity.

The kale drive and the force-feeding of kale to people in the DTES is just one aspect of their programming. The idea behind this organization is that people abstain from food (fast) for a specified amount of time or meals and then donate the money they saved by not eating to Not So Fast who then distributes it to food security programs. On the surface, I think it is a ridiculous idea. As you read their their vision statement so many of those same assumptions I referenced above are their foundation:

Our goal at Not So Fast is to encourage communities, and our world, to consume less and give more.

No matter what your status is, there will always be someone who has more than you, and someone who has less.

The Not So Fast idea is all about going with (just a little) less to give someone else a little more. You can give up your favourite treat for a day or make some major lifestyle changes – the choice is yours. In turn, the money you would have spent is donated to Not So Fast or the food charity of your choice.

By donating to Not So Fast, your money goes towards one of several of our grassroots initiatives aimed at arming people of all walks of life to source, prepare, and enjoy the very food many of us take for granted everyday.

Because food for all is a basic human right.

The opening sentence is a noble goal however what it belies is the fact that food insecurity is a systemic issue of injustice in our society. If all of our citizens are to have access to appropriate food there will have to be a major change on the governmental level that would put people before profits and well-being above the bottom line. In short, we would need to get serious about ending poverty in our rich country. Asking people to eat a little less is only reifying the idea that charity can do what government should.

The next statement is extremely problematic. The idea that everyone can give regardless of what they have (or don’t have) is oppressive. How does it make sense that everyone should compromise their access to food no matter how little they have? It also attempts to make people feel guilty for not going without so someone else can have more. Is the single mother on income assistance going to fast so that someone else more needy can have her food? Of course they caveat the fasting regimes with groups of people who should not do it.** But what they fail to realize is that some people will do this regardless of their membership into one of these groups. What if young people with eating disorders use this idea as a way to further restrict food? The problems that could arise are endless. Instead of using a medical doctor they are relying on a naturopathic doctor for their medical information. While I recognize that they likely know a lot about nutrition, I think a medical doctor would be a more credible source.

The thing that disturbs me the most is that they have a store where they are selling journals called “The Little Book Of Less,” a journal for fasters to track their ‘good deeds and keep you on the right path.’ You can buy a single book, a pack of 3 books or a starter pack of 1 book, some pins and magnets. So the question now becomes what is their real purpose? Why would they ask people to spend money on their branded stuff instead of you know tracking things in a spreadsheet on their computers? If they were truly committed to their ‘good deeds’*** why would they be selling anything? They could set up journal and excel templates and offer them for free on their website.

I get that people want to make themselves feel better by trying to do something good in the world. Feeding people who don’t have enough to eat is a noble and lofty goal. However, when your need to do be charitable work compromises another person’s agency it is not a good work; it is oppression.

* At first they contemplated going into people’s gardens at night and stealing it.

** “Children under 13, and women who are pregnant should not fast at all. Pretty much everyone can fast safely for at least one meal, providing you are in good general health. Anyone who is diabetic (type 1 or 2), has cardiac risk factors, history of eating disorders, kidney problems, or other known health concerns should consult with a licensed healthcare provider before considering any type of food fast.”

***The right path as defined by the Not So Fast folks no doubt.

Published in: on November 27, 2013 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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