Livin’ La Vida Local

I’ve been brought down by furry slippers. Specifically, the furry slippers are the most recent derailment in my ongoing quest to be an ethical consumer. As Mike put it, “becoming a hippie who lives exclusively off hemp products” seems to be the only way to be avoid causing misery somewhere.

This moral dilemma has been occupying space in my heart for years. I was brought up, as most millennials are, to be outraged by human and animal rights violations. Our generation has seen massive leaps forward in understanding, tolerance, and technology. It doesn’t seem unrealistic that I could believe humankind had successfully switched to actually fake fur. Not so. It turns out that fake fur originating from Asia is typically made from cat or dog fur. No problem. I can take an extra minute to check the label. I found these furry slippers and looked all over it and it was labelled as 100% polyester. Success! I brought them home and took a closer look at the label. In tiny print underneath that 100% polyester it said something like “may contain materials not man-made.” I take this to mean that in my 100% polyester slippers, there’s a good chance Rocky’s distant cousin, Pocky, donated some fur to keep my feet warm.

Pocky’s slippers are one example out of many. Meat, shrimp, electronics, quinoa, makeup….apparently to live cruelty-free you need to be a skilled private detective that thrives off of self deprivation. Even so,  I have a deep reluctance to throw in the towel. The word ‘stubborn’ has been thrown around. Really though, we all know that failure is the tuition for success.  My new attack plan? Go local. It’s the perfect time of year as we gear up into spring.

The experience of a farmer’s market is so much more enjoyable than a grocery store. Every year I’m determined that I will make it to the markets on a regular basis, but sadly I am not a morning person which can make it tough. That’s why the River Heights Farmer’s Market is great for me since it’s at a more reasonable hour of 12:00 pm on Fridays. Unfortunately since that doesn’t start up til July, I’m going to head to the Manitoba Hydro builing to visit the Downtown Farmer’s Market as it returns April 7th. For a listing of other markets check here. At the same River Heights Farmer’s Market, I had the chance to purchase humanely-raised meat from Food Ethos farm. They have a balanced agriculture approach that avoids pesticides and allows their animals to range freely. I’m currently looking into setting up a monthly meat orders with them. For more information click here.

I’ve gone to quite a few Winnipeg Christmas craft sales, but I wasn’t aware that there are some markets in the spring as well. I’ve already booked the Third and Bird Spring Market and the West Etsy Market in my calendar (as we all know I’d never remember to go otherwise). Both of these markets are on April 30th.

I think that while it will be a challenge, living locally will also inspire me to feel more connected to this place that I call home. I don’t expect to succeed wholly since I’m not one of those prairie pilgrim people. But at the very least I’ll know that some of my dollars are going back into my own community and to the good people that live here.


It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Springtime!

Thin Ice

I am chronically forgetful. I will leave anything anywhere. Leather jackets in restaurants, sunglasses in cars, passports in strange countries. “Is this yours?” is standard farewell when I’m leaving anyone’s house. You name it, I’ve forgotten it. Last week while having a drink at Stella’s Grant,  I had a classic “I forgot my wallet” moment. My friend Jess graciously covered the bill and eventually I recovered my wallet from a grocery store. Crisis averted. I was thinking about how this forgetfulness goes beyond material items. Now that we’re well into March, we’ve been getting a sneak peek of spring. Spring makes me remember all kinds of things I forget every year. How warm the sun feels on my face. The lightness of being without parkas, mitts and boots. The simplicity of getting out the door without layering up. The absence of these experiences makes the first days of spring so exciting.

I’ve never lived somewhere that didn’t have 4 seasons and the very concept is strange. Our seasonal shift forces us into re-evaluating our everyday life. Activities, clothing, diet, what we drive, where and how we eat are affected. As a result, our lifestyle is never the same for long. The constant change not only keeps us from sinking into dull routine, but also forces us to appreciate every minute because we know how temporary it is. Beyond ourselves, our entire city transforms before us. Perhaps in a less treed city, it would be less striking. In our city, spring starts out as a brown and puddle-filled mess. Once the snow is gone and the water dries up, we are suddenly blessed with a new reality of colour, noise, and freshness. Now all we have to do is stay dry until we get there.



Been Spending Most My Life Living in a Foodie Paradise

I have a problem. It’s called food. It is a wonderful, delicious, expensive blessing that Winnipeg has such a high number of restaurants per capita. The choices are almost overwhelming when it comes to dining out. Except to me, it’s more like the gauntlet has been thrown and the challenge accepted. I’m going to be totally honest here, I work to eat.

After weeping over my last bank account statement, I read a CBC article about Canadians continually spending more on dining out. My masochistic tendencies led me to click the devil button unleashing the predictable torrent of comments.  If these folks are to be believed (they’re not), your friendly neighbourhood commenter casually whips up gourmet yet affordable meals, while entertaining a steady stream of people in and out of their houses which also happen to have a nicer ambiance than any “professional establishment.”

I reflected over the previous 7 days and the tally added up pretty quickly. Ok so Infernos, Massawa, Stella’s, The Grove (that was drinks and appetizers, does that count?), Sabbai Thai. Oh and I had a coffee at Little Sister. Yep, I went out for dinner 5 times in a 7 day period. I’m afraid to say the week before was more of the same. The truth is food is the basis of my social life. It introduces interest in my daily life. There is always a new restaurant or pub opening. The chefs and restaurateurs creating these places are limitless in their creativity. And I love dining out for the simple reason that when you sit down with someone, the focus is on the food and the company. Provided you can put your phone down, it can be a very present and humanizing experience.

I feel lucky that we live in such a vibrant foodie community. No matter your budget or taste, there is a culinary adventure around every corner. I refuse to feel badly about partaking in something that gives me so much joy. And as for all those CBC commenters, the next time you recreate the sushi masterpieces of Wasabi Sabi, cook Massawa’s delicious injera and yellow split pea curry, or make an apricot vanilla crème brulee, please invite me over.  Until then I’ll be sipping my Manitoba Apple Whiskey at the Grove.