Just Eat It!!

Before delving into a subject that I have been very passionate about in recent years, I want to link you to a fabulous documentary.

http://www.foodwastemovie.com/

Food waste is an issue that costs Canada $31 billion EVERY YEAR. With prominent names like John Oliver and David Suzuki taking up the issue and promoting awareness of food waste and how we can curb it, I hope we can slowly decrease this sum and re-allocate food to those who need it.

Most of us associate food waste with what happens at the consumer level – we buy produce and other perishable goods from the store, have it sit in our fridge for way too long, and then eventually throw it out when it starts to go bad. This actually accounts for almost half of the total sum mentioned above. Most of this waste is food purchased with the intention of consuming it but ends up in landfills or compost. On a household level, we waste up to 25% of the food we purchase. The documentary Just Eat It paints a vivid picture of this – imagine buying four grocery bags full of food and then casually dropping one on the way to your car in the parking lot. Although that isn’t the case in reality, that is the equivalent of letting that much food rot in your fridge over a length of time. This sounds scary, but this is encouraging. All of us can make a HUGE difference by simply eating it. Eat all the food you buy and we’ve diminished the problem.

Further up the chain, retailers (largely large supermarkets and restaurants/hotels) contribute to another 20% – much of the food that is in stock near their expiry date simply gets turfed. Not donated, composted, sold for a lower price elsewhere – just thrown out. In fact, in some cases, food is thrown out well before their best before date. Additionally, best before dates aren’t even a true reflection of when a certain product will go bad – it is a producer’s recommended date for the optimal freshness and taste of the product. There isn’t even a consistent definition for this date and sometimes even the manufacture date or sell by date are confused for the date of expiry and this causes even more food to be thrown out by retailers. Their reasoning? That the food may be unsafe for consumption and they will be sued if they donate it and someone gets sick. This cannot actually happen by virtue of the Good Samaritan Law, which states that if donors give food in good faith, they are absolved of all liability. The same holds for a single person’s donation to the food bank, for example.

http://www.canlii.net/en/on/laws/stat/so-1994-c-19/latest/so-1994-c-19.html

The remaining food is wasted at processing facilities and at the farm. Knowing that supermarkets want to display only the most perfect looking produce on their shelves, many farms throw away, or don’t harvest, much of their produce. This not only results in perfectly good fruit and vegetables being thrown away because they are misshapen or slightly bruised, but also constitutes a large waste in the resources needed to grow this produce in the first place.

If I haven’t convinced you that food waste is a problem that we can all help diminish, I hope John Oliver can:

https://youtu.be/i8xwLWb0lLY

Let’s all do our part to preserve the earth’s resources and keep the planet, and ourselves, in the best shape possible.
A

Guess who’s back (back again) – no, it’s not Slim Shady.

Hello dedicated, non-existent readership of my blog,

Why have you been gone for four months you might ask and tell you I will.

For one, I’ve been on a thesis writing bender for the last few weeks in a desperate attempt to graduate before the term is up. Apparently the pent up stress and anxiety means I have to procrastinate…by writing this blog post. Additionally, I’m four and a half months into my only real relationship ever – with the awesome guy I was crushing on for months prior to him texting me out (it’s a thing!). I have no complaints and we might even go travelling together this summer for a week or two (in Europe no less!). We haven’t really talked about any of the tough stuff, but he’s so easy-going that I’m sure it’ll all work out. Did I mention he’s super tall, super smart, pretty punny (no, not funny, punny, but he makes me laugh everytime) and easy on the eyes? ❤ I think I’m falling…

In other news, I think I am going to seriously try to start up a frequently updated (hah!) science blog. More details to follow once I’ve decided how I am going to follow up on this ambition.

Until next time,

A

A weekend of good coffee

I don’t know if it’s my West Coast upbringing, the fact that being South Indian essentially ensures that you have a love of coffee in your genes, or just too many terrible Starbucks coffees, but I’ve recently become quite the coffee snob. I like a decent medium roast and freshly ground beans, so my weekend coffees are a thing of beauty. I get up on a lazy Saturday or Sunday and make myself an Indian filter coffee. The essence of this method is that there is a two part stainless steel device where the top cup has several holes pierced into the bottom and rests on the bottom cup, which serves to receive and store the decoction after it has dripped through. To make the coffee, boiling water is poured into fresh grinds that are in the top cup and the decoction slowly drips into the bottom cup. This thick, viscous decoction is then diluted with a fair amount of steamed milk to yield a latte-style drink.

Apart from the South Indian style coffee, I have a penchant for espresso-based drinks and have always been partial to a good cappucino. As a result, when a friend asked me if I wanted to join him for an excursion to Etobicoke to try the coffee at Sense Appeal this weekend, I was game. Sense Appeal is an experimental coffee roaster and, though they only had the one roast available, I tried a cortado and an americano and both were incredibly flavourful. I usually drink my coffee with a pinch of sugar and a dash of milk, but the americano was sublime on its own. The cortado was just the right mix of milk and espresso and I savoured it.

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If you have the chance to head to Sense Appeal (I wouldn’t recommend driving a half hour to go, mind you), give it a try. I tried a sip of my friend’s Turkish latte as well and the cinnamon really came through and gave it a nice warmth.

On Sunday, I met up with a friend for lunch in Chinatown and headed to Dark Horse on Spadina for coffee afterwards. I had a cortado there too – it wasn’t quite as good as the one at Sense Appeal as far as I can remember, but the ambiance of the coffee shop was nice. It was hard to find a place to sit, but the hipster vibe and friendly hustle and bustle was something I liked. The baristas were good-natured and equally hipster and didn’t mind that my friend and I were sitting at the only available stools right in front of the counter in their faces. I, however, could not understand how the people sitting at the communal tables were working – the chatter and music was too loud to work effectively in my opinion.

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Aww, a heart at Dark Horse 🙂 I love you guys too!

Worth mentioning is that Dark Horse is right next to a quirky record store called Sonic Boom. A quick perusal showed that it had something for everyone. Wes Anderson fan? There’s an anthology-style coffee table book for you. Revere Bill Murray? There’s a Bill Murray colouring book with your name on it. I feel like this is where I can get gifts for the nerds and hipsters in my life.

I am continuing to explore Toronto – tally ho!

Keep caffeinating,

A

Can you make them an offer they can’t refuse?

In randomness on the internet, the Staten Island house from The Godfather is on the market…for a paltry sum of $2.89M.

http://www.silive.com/eastshore/index.ssf/2014/11/listed_for_289_million_godfath.html

Also an opportunity to comment that I rewatched The Godfather a few months ago and it was amazing! I then watched the second and third parts in the trilogy. Mark my words, you do NOT want to watch the third one…Sophia Coppola makes me cringe in every scene Mary Corleone appears. On the other hand, Al Pacino kills it in every one of the three movies.

This is the face of someone who should be directing, not acting.

This is the face of someone who should be directing, not acting.

Photo cred: http://www.gonemovies.com/WWW/TopFilms/Godfather/Godf3Mary.jpg

Halloween and why I love themed parties

I have had a lovely childhood and the best parents ever. They put me in dance classes, I got to learn the piano and violin (Indian and the more conventional western style) and I’ve taken tennis lessons once upon a time. However, we never celebrated birthdays or other holidays and even though we got presents and were never lacking in comforts, there was no pomp or fanfare at most occasions (unless we were celebrating someone else’s birthday or anniversary outside our immediate family). As a result, I’ve always been jealous of families that celebrated a conventional Christmas or got to put up amazing decorations for Halloween and do something on October 31st besides trick-or-treating and handing out candy. As a result, my friend/roommate and I have hosted a Halloween party for the last two Halloweens. It just so happened that Halloween fell on a Friday this year – a perfect party day! I don’t have any photos from last year’s party (I was having too much fun!) but sober and kind-of-under-the-weather me made sure to take lots of pictures of the amazing costumes our guests dressed up in this year. Ah, the beauty of making costumes mandatory! A few of the characters that made an appearance: Napoleon and Pedro (from Napoleon Dynamite), a motion capture outfit man, lumpy space princess, a bag of jelly beans, Wolverine, and The Man With No Name (Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly).

I myself dressed up as a mime (as did my co-host).

Candy corn jell-o shots!

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Spider ice! Gross (we froze plastic spiders into the ice).

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Decorations.

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A Halloween themed spread of snacks, including candy corn style cupcakes.

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Miming for the night 🙂

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Until next time!

A

A Night at the Symphony

I resolved to myself at the beginning of this past summer that I would explore Toronto to its fullest. This plan only became more solid when I realized I may not have more than a few months left in Toronto (as my future plans are still up in the air and I only moved to Toronto for school initially) and I had left it largely unexplored! I had a couple of dates in the summer where I was invited to stroll along Queen West and the Danforth and these two locales of Toronto, as I learned, have so much to offer. In the last few months, I have also started exploring the cultural side of Toronto. I’ve gone to a handful of plays at the Hart House Theatre, which puts on a great selection of plays every year – most notably the Importance of Being Earnest last month (quite possibly my favourite play of all the ones I’ve read). The capricious and farcical nature of Algernon’s character was particularly well acted. In danger of dubbing myself a quintessential Renaissance woman, I have also been to three ballet performances by the National Ballet of Canada – The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Romeo and Juliet. In fact, the last of these, Romeo and Juliet, I went to solely for the amazing score by Sergei Prokofiev, which leads me to the title of my post today.

I went last night to watch the Toronto Symphony Orchestra play a program of three pieces: Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slave, Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1, and an abridged arrangement (by Stéphane Denève) of Prokofiev’s Romeo And Juliet suite – sound familiar? Anyway, the second piece was marvelously led by Scottish violonist Nicola Benedetti. The Prokofiev suit was amazing, as always, and the shortened arrangement was quite interesting.

Here’s a quick snap I took before the concert started (and flash photography was expressly forbidden):

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It was my first time at Roy Thomson Hall and the concert hall/auditorium was fabulous. Can’t be afraid of heights when you get the furthest balcony seats though!

To conclude on a completely different note, remember the guy I told you all I would ask out last week? Well, I wimped out. He and another friend accompanied me to the TSO last night and I resolved to ask him out after the concert. I reneged on my promise to myself yet again. However, a mere hour after he walked me back home last night, I got a text asking if I was free to have dinner with him next week. Score!! The friend to whom I have been complaining and analyzing all of this guy’s moves with was happy to find out that her read on guys wasn’t completely wrong! Anyway, excuse me while I go frantically obsess over my dress selection and overall look for next week’s date with the very guy I’ve been obsessing about for almost 3 months…

Much love,

A

Strengthened Resolve

Howdy! Didn’t expect me back so soon, didja? I’m filled with a heightened sense of focus with this blog and intend to write once a week. The topic or length of the post will probably have no consistency from week to week (much like my scattered thoughts).

Anyway, to follow up on last week’s post, I went to three hot yoga classes since then – Friday, Sunday and Monday of Thanksgiving long weekend. I had a rough first class, largely thanks to under-hydration, but I think I’m back in the groove. Excited to go to my first ashtanga class in over a month tonight! I’m having another bad back week (not entirely aided by the long work night I pulled marking papers a couple of days ago – lack of sleep doesn’t allow my body, more importantly my back, to rest well).

Additionally, I went to Cirque du Soleil Kurios on Tuesday night and to say it was fabulous would be an unbelievably large understatement. The physical feats performed were astounding and the contortionists and rope acts made me literally gasp.

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Apologies for the terrible photo quality. I took a quick snap on my phone before the show started and then was too enthralled for the next two hours to take any more photos. It was the first Cirque du Soleil I have seen and I would highly recommend everyone go see a show at some point. The ticket prices are a bit tough to swallow, but the experience is worth it.

Harkening back to my previous statement of strengthened resolve, I have decided to lead a healthier life both mentally and physically. Physically, I have already been eating well and am now firmly set on my new yoga routine. Mentally, I want to, in very vague terms, lead a happier life. In essence, I want to make choices that allow me to surround myself with the people, things, and experiences that allow me to be happy. I have recently had some disappointments in my life, but am choosing to look at these experiences in a positive light, using them as an opportunity to grow and learn from them (I know, how trite is that?).

In fact, a few years ago, when I was getting a routine exam from my doctor, he made me take a depression test, thinking my anxiety and stress might be stemming from that. The test, which was basically dozens of yes/no questions, came back negative, but I still suffer from anxiety. I might look calm and collected on the outside before meetings and presentations, but I am a nervous wreck on the inside, with the worst case scenarios running through my head (one of those once came true, but that is a story for another day). I have the same outlook with my relationships (or the ones I want to have anyway). I will pine after a guy obsessively but not make a single move for fear of rejection. I understand that rejection is something everyone fears, but for me it is crippling. I do my best to pretend I don’t like the very guy I am madly crushing on and ignore him when he is around. How does this help me? It doesn’t. To that end, my resolve extends to this part of my life as well. I have resolved to ask out a guy friend I’ve been hanging out with regularly lately and the plan is to do it tonight, after we watch a movie at my place. Wish me luck! If I don’t follow up with another post, rest assured I am drowning my sorrows in a tub of ice cream (wait, I’m lactose intolerant…uhm, cake?) Drat, now I just want cake…

Anyways, I’m going to sign off now. Until next time,

A