I wake early to a city enveloped in fog. Through my own foggy mind, I go through familiar motions – grind the coffee beans, boil the water, blend the smoothie.Today’s morning sustenance consists of organic yogurt, local pears and over ripe bananas. Through my morning daze, I realize that none of these ingredients will be on my grocery list for the coming week.
Once the caffeine jolts me awake, it’s off to start the day. Stop #1 – The Wychwood Barns Farmers Market.
As I pedal up Christie Street, I feel energetic and alive. My legs pump me up the hill, the air is crisp in my lungs, and I relish in the fact that I’m zipping by cars stuck in traffic. At the top I meet Danielle, and we head inside.
It’s not until we stop to talk to a vendor that I remember that in 48 hours, we’ll both be eating from our food bank hampers only. The long lines of crisp produce — all locally and organically grown — aren’t for us this week. This one realization makes the whole interaction – centered around buying food for the week — fruitless.
Eventually, we decide to order something from The Stop Cafe. Alex makes us his famous fritata sandwiches, and for a moment, my tastebuds are in heaven. As we chew, Danielle and I talk about the coming week — how difficult we expect this challenge to be, not just from a physical perspective, but socially. We both have a week filled with professional and social interactions, most of which will revolve around food. At least it will be a good platform for conversing about the challenge, we decide.
Eventually it’s time to leave and I bike off — legs strong, belly full, ready to zip over to the other end of town.
Stop #2: Holy Oak Cafe.
I’m meeting Mike here today – an old university friend who I haven’t seen in years. I had originally hoped to meet up with him this coming week, but then remembered Do The Math. Every social interaction I could think of for “catching up” with him involved either food or drink. So instead we meet today, over apple-beet-ginger juice and a hot pot of toasted almond tea.
As I tell him about the challenge, he asks about hosting.
“If you have people over, will you serve them tuna and kraft dinner?”
In my head, I think to myself, “Share? There’s hardly enough food for me in this hamper. As if I’d be sharing.” And with this comes realization #2. My life revolves not only around food-based social interactions, but also hosting. Whether it’s group brunches or meetings, tea with friends or big dinner parties, one of my favourite acts is having people over and sharing food with them. Not only do I not want to do this next week, I won’t be able to in order to have enough food for myself.
The rest of my day continues like this, with two more social occasions based around food planned. And in reality, the rest of my weekend, year and life will be the same. I will likely never go hungry. I will continue to socialize around food. I will grow, consume, cook, and serve food, every day of every year that I live.
For the coming week, though, I won’t. And instead will meditate on what it means to have this privilege, and live in a world where so many don’t have these luxeries.
As for now, I’m running late for afternoon tea.