Grim pickin’s

Another day has passed and so has much of my food. Still have lots of rice and oatmeal, but only one carrot left, 2 potatoes, 2 onions, an apple, two bananas and four eggs. I have a fair amount of milk, left, too – I’ve only been using it for my morning oatmeal. I bought a loaf of bread yesterday, on sale for $1.25 (Not really the kind I like, but economically necessary). Buying the bread left me with $1.15.
Yesterday, I had a potato frittata and it was pretty tasty. My black bean stir-fry the other night was also pretty good. I’ve saved the leftovers, so I can have a nice supper on Monday night, day 7.
But none of this alleviates the fact that my choices are growing ever narrower. I can maybe make potato latkes for tonight, and a hard-boiled egg sandwich for Monday’s lunch, along with the ever-present oatmeal for breakfast. Lunch today? Maybe a carrot and banana sandwich? Or, more realistically, a fried egg on toast, with a carrot on the side and a banana to finish?
That’s what really been hitting home for me both yesterday and today – Loss of choices, loss of control. It was Saturday, yesterday, and as I walked the Drive in the (brief) sunshine, I saw kids with ice cream, dads with coffees, and people picking through the wonderful selection of produce that the Drive is famous for. And I was outside of all of that – I could walk along, and kind of participate, but really felt outside. I stopped to chat with Ming, my favourite greengrocer. But I couldn’t buy any of the local chard he was telling me about. Nor could I stop off at our excellent local smokehouse and buy their superb fresh or dried sausages (which I usually use to season my soups, or add flavour to beans). Saturday is my day to market, to chat with merchants, and to be part of the world as it moves along the Drive. It’s also an opportunity to go to the Farmers Market at Trout Lake, and check out the seasonal produce, chat with those merchants about growing methods. And it felt like none of that was available to me, because I’m “on welfare.”
As someone whose job and hobby is all about food, this week has been an eye-opener – I’m thankful for the privilege that just having a job brings me. The Globe and Mail reported on Thursday that 51% of Canadians would struggle to pay their bills if their paycheque was just one week late! The Welfare Food Challenge is just a couple of steps away for more than half of us, and a challenging reality of all of the British Columbians already living in poverty. I have nothing but admiration for the people who have to ride the see-saw of poor nutrition and loss of control every single day.
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