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After picking up my last pannier from Jardin de Resistance in Montreal I offered to buy some excess yellow squash they had on hand to make relish out of (actually I hadn’t found the recipe until I ran home and deeply searched the net — this recipe is now locked down so I liberate it just for you).

Each year I try to challenge myself to can as much local food as I can (either freezer, dehydrated, or in cans) to perserve and have healthy fresh food in the winter (which is loong 🙂 In Montreal, we tend to only get food from way south even as far as South America after having been on a plane for many hours and not really tasting that fresh in the winter. So I’m trying to reconnect with older traditional ways of keeping food safe and yummy for the winter 🙂

What you got cookin’??

It’s a pickled spicy relish using tumeric and mustard and works really well with meats, burgers (veggie or meat) and just a great addition to any dish that needs a bit of relish! Thanks to the amazing folk at Coop Les Jardins de la Resistance for letting me buy some extra organic CSA veggies from them to make this beautiful relish!

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[I found out just the other day that a dear friend of mine from Australia has passed on after having a diabetic coma. It’s really hit me hard as I really saw her as a sister, friend, and awesome person in this world. So to her I wrote this…]

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“If we view society as a physical organism, there are clearly parts of this organism that are in dire neglect. For to leave one’s own, here and elsewhere, without shelter, without food, without love… is not very hygienic.

Without downplaying the seriousness of the H1N1 threat to many, we have to realize the disproportionate media coverage and financial investment thrown at fighting a potential pandemic, compared to that directed at the eradication of a flagrant problem which is killing thousands of people each day through hunger, insalubrity, violence, and so on. Not to mention the paranoia and fear which form the face of such coverage. Not very hygienic…” – Etat d’urgance

Every year an urban village was created in downtown area of Montreal to provide an eclectic space for homeless people of Montreal to receive support through food, free clothing, warm shelter, music, arts, and other programming.

My shift started at 7 AM in the morning on Sunday, November 29th – the last day of the festival – after 450 volunteers had managed to help pull off the entire shift by working around the clock to support the people at the village.

Throughout the entire week chefs came from various restaurants to prepare amazing food for the people living in the village. One mornings breakfast included salmon, oysters, eggs, croissants, and fruit. A feast for the kings and queens of the street.

To help out I carried most of the food being prepared by the chefs into the serving area, as well as refilling the coffee machines when they ran out. The entire experience was humbling – to realise that on a regular basis there are people on the street that don’t have the safe luxuries that I do. That most of the time don’t get to choose what they can and can’t eat. It was humbling to realise that after refilling the coffee machine 6-7 times we had essentially served probably over 600-700 people.

The chef that I worked with had an amazing story about having come from a war torn country. Seeing and experiencing threats of this magnitude changes a person I expect. For the last two years he has been contributing to this village through his amazing cooking abilities. He had gotten up at 2 AM in the morning to start preparing the trays of potatoes and sausages to be served. If that wasn’t impressive enough he had been cracking eggs to fill two gallon buckets for the meal.That’s serious dedication towards providing something as beautiful as food for people in need.

On a side note it was also really exciting to see ATSA’s mandate to lower their ecological footprint by recycling and composting all of the waste that was generated. Helping the people and helping the environment – that’s the kinda world that I want to live in.

So before I left SMART Technologies ages ago I had a friend who worked there ask me a lot of questions about being a vegan. He was really receptive and polite in his questions and honestly wanted to know ways in which I obtained protein (a big fear for meat eaters is that people can’t survive on a plant based diet cause you don’t get meat for your body to survive — read: not entirely true)

For Chuck and his family they decided to become vegetarians for a month because of several contributing factors.

“First, if we’re tired and hungry at the end of the day the recipes that come most easily to mind are some kind of meat-and-two-veg thing. Not the healthiest…[and their] oldest son (just turned seven) is a sensitive kid and also a picky eater. He [doesn’t] like the idea of killing animals for food — so much so that he was willing ot experiment with all kinds of different veg cuisine if it meant he didn’t have to eat meat.”

Throughout this experiment the family tried out different veggie cuisine options finding things that the entire family enjoyed. Chuck commented that it wasn’t difficult for his family to find sources of nutrition and protein to eat healthy.

“I think “how will you get your protein?” is about as common and annoying a question for vegetarians as “how will you socialize them?” is for homeschoolers. Short answer: go look at the biggest, most heavily-muscled silverback gorilla in your local zoo –he’s vegan. End of question.”

[My note: As a vegan this is probably the most frustrating question I get too..or the crude jokes about me needing more meat, etc. on my plate.]

It’s an interesting note on our culture that most people do believe that our only protein food sources can be obtained from meat based diets. We have to be careful not to cut out vegetables from our diets as they are the source of anti-oxidants, little cancer fighting weapons, vitamins, and so much more goodness.

After Chuck’s one month trial they decided to find more ethical sources of meat suppliers as a means of bridging the gap between being vegetarians and meat-eaters (dubbed by Chuck as “flexitarian”).

“We don’t eat a lot of meat any more (I can’t remember the last time I bought steak or pork chops) and honestly can’t handle large quantities at one sitting after a month as vegetarians. And even before our experiment, we had started sourcing our meat from ethical sources, particularly one place at Crossroads Market owned by an older German lady and her husband.”

Another really nice approach from this is that Chuck is actually buying his food local! YEAH TO LOCAL! This means that he is also reducing his carbon imprint on food shipping/processing/etc. He is supporting local economies and farmers (the little guys), and ensures that the animals are happy (dubbed “happy meat” by Chuck).

Now you are probably wondering why a vegan would be writing about all this. Well I’ve never been one to be a snotty vegan (meaning that I frown upon others eating meat). I see it more as a challenge to educate others about many issues.

  • Buying local food (not supporting factory farms) = healthier animals, less food miles, supporting smaller farmers
  • Buying organic (healthier and again happier animals) = better for the environment
  • Environmental impacts of the food we eat – it takes 10x more resources (water, energy, etc) to make 1 lb of beef than it does 1 lb of wheat.
  • Vegetarian Meals are goodness = They can be tasty and they make you feel fresh!

So eating vegetarian even just once a week is going to have a huge impact on the environment versus not eating vegetarian at all. Why would I want to critisize people who are doing something to make change like Chuck is clearly showing. Revolutions, change, growth, and movements never happened when people ostracised others for their choices. When we can all embrace each other and work together towards something more sustainable, ethical, and loving as a community that’s when we are going to see things change.PROPS TO YOU CHUCK FOR TAKING THAT RISK MAN! Thanks for sharing bro!