Photo of Jade O'Sullivan

Jade O’Sullivan

I am 34 years old and originally from Australia, via the UK, living in Toronto. I have been here for 3 years now and really love the city I live in and the amazing diversity I see here. But, as I live in a central area of Toronto with an amazing community centre a 100m away who do some fantastic work with homeless and underhoused people, I start to question how ‘well off’ I really am, even when I’m ‘doing it tough.’

I have actually been doing a ‘soft launch’ of this program for 3 weeks now. I did not want to waste any of the things I already had in my fridge, freezer or general cupboard. I thought this was a great way to get myself started on minimizing these items, and reducing temptation for sneaking them in, during the challenge.

I plan to contribute the difference between what I usually spend per week on food (about $70) and the $21 (ish) I am actually spending (so for 4 weeks, approximately $200) to my local community centre for work with people who are finding living wages to be non-existent.

I hope to be able to continue this for a full year… and have every intention of loading my photos, images, perceptions to Twitter and Instagram (twitter: jadeshirley and instagram: jade.shirley). I would like to have a blog, but I am feeling supremely lazy, also known as tired, from actually having to plan, significantly, how healthily live, make my own things, reduce costs, search out best options, healthiest options and re-check my food budget weekly. As someone who cooks and bakes regularly this is STILL really difficult as I am now baking my own bread (by hand, as I don’t have a bread making machine, and neither is it likely that people trying to make ends meet on welfare would either).

My concerns about this after 3 weeks: I have had a severe flu since day 2 of this endeavour. I can guarantee that the Challenge did NOT give me this illness (I shall refer to illnesses as ‘lurgies’) but I feel that the decreased intake of fresh fruit and vegetables has probably not done my immune system any good whatsoever. As an Australian, I am not as used to having as much sugar in my diet. My bread should go off after three or four days. The sugar content here, as well as a whole host of preservatives, means my bread is good for 2 weeks, after I have purchased it. I had stomach pains 2 hours after my first sandwich. I feel that the minimal funds here mean that I am going to either 1) go hungry; 2) eat nothing but processed crap (and I mean that wholeheartedly); or 3) put on weight because I end up eating pasta, rice, potatoes. I also see my immune system taking a real beating.

I should also point out that I am vegetarian/pescatarian and do not eat meat. That said, I do not eat anything but SPCA approved eggs. This budget does not support me getting eggs every week. So, beans beans beans. I am a smelly bean eating machine. I also do not eat anything but sustainably sourced fish. And $21 means I can get some frozen fillets once a month (i.e. 1 serving of fish per week). I may be able to convince myself to get cheaper canned tuna for the 1 week… but, it raises the question about sustainability and the health benefits for people eating like this regularly…

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