Friday, 28 October 2016

Minimalism Mel?

Capilano Suspension Bridge- Vancouver, BC
My contract was up, my lease was up, I looked around and realised I was totally free! How lucky I felt. So I decided to pack up and move on. I am currently road tripping through the US on route to Ottawa to see some folks. From there I am going abroad, to where is still undecided. What was decided was that I needed less stuff. Thus the struggle, challenge and liberating experience began to eliminate all the things from my life and to fit into my little coupe.  As therapeutic as it may seem to sell off my worldly possessions to travel again, it is also a very difficult and humbling experience for me. Though this is not the first time I have moved away, or started over, this time I am approaching it from a different angle.

The first time I left home I was 21 and heading to Europe. I sold all the IKEA furniture I had accumulated in my Toronto apartment, stored many boxes at my parents and took 4 suitcases with me. I got rid of the cheap things that I collected to fit into the world I didn't. I moved to BC with 3 suitcases, but would have needed a moving van to leave it. This time around I took care and time in accumulating the things I now wish to rid myself of, which is maybe why its hurting more. They may be worth less in gold but I carefully thrifted, swapped, received and made everything I have now. When I sell my car it is something that I took time in searching for, painstakingly maintained and made memories. It makes it harder to part with.

Mt Walker- Olympic National Forest, WA
Last week was hard, I sold my chickens who were a source of food from their eggs and beloved pets. Then I sold my bicycle, Bernadette, a bike I loved so much I named. With the weight of their worth in my pocket in the form of funny coloured bills I replaced my things with a value that doesn't translate to how I valued them. To me its not as simple as buying something new. Its a choice every time I make a purchase, towards the type of economy and world I support and want to live in.

Donating old clothes, selling off furniture and pieces I could have kept a lifetime. That's just it, I don't need any of it. I remind myself every time. When I teared up a bit when my last chicken left I told myself "I will survive." The ability to willingly let go of these things, even if I love them is in itself a privilege. I acknowledge this and vow to use their "worth" towards the idea that I will find happiness through the experiences I am about to have, and not through the things I am letting go of.

By shedding what ties me down to this place it also makes me free from it.

Bob Red Mill- Milwaukee, Or
Minimalism Mel? When it all adds up; having things translates to consuming. We should all consume less to preserve the environment and its resources, therefore minimalism should be embraced. This time I plan to go abroad with 1 bag, and leave behind 1 box. Every time I buy something I need to ensure I have to space and willingness to carry it with me, it makes me buy less. Every day on my road trip I eliminate something from the car, its like a little game I play. Yesterday the cooler got cut "you have been eliminated" I told it, as I dropped it off at goodwill in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Things can be replaced,  you can learn to live with less, the adventures and memories I'm making cannot.

Have a lovely day,


Follow me on my travels on Instagram @melaniejadea

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." -Hans Hoffman

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

10 Reasons I am getting my tubes tied, Today!

At 26, I am sure I do not want children. I am so sure that today, I am getting my tubes tied! In a simple, 45 minute procedure I will do away with a future of worrying about reproductive health and my clock ticking. It is so routine that  I will be back in my bed this evening with the assistance of a friend and back on my feet tomorrow afternoon. Easy peasy.  Let's all get one!

I have been considering having my tubes tied as a more permanent form of contraception for many years. However, if you are under the age of thirty and have not had children, it is highly unlikely a doctor will agree to such a procedure. It is just too common for us women to change our minds apparently. As my doctor explained to me, up to 30% of women who have their tubes tied will have it reversed and only 30% of those women will be able to conceive afterwards. He told me he didn't want to live with the guilt of taking away a woman's ability to give birth, especially a young, unmarried and childless woman.

I had an IUD put in at 21 the first time I asked a doctor about more permanent contraceptive methods. She said I was too young to make those kinds of decisions. I agreed that I could think on it more. Five years later I was at the end of a 13 month waiting list and sitting in a room filled with expecting mothers and young children plotting out my arguments. In an effort to convince this strange man of my assuredness, I built my case with these points:
  1. Human Overpopulation- Number one reason for me not to have children is because the world just has to many bodies on it right now. We have surpassed the carrying capacity of our planet by not being responsible breeders. Too many people use up too many resources and take up too much space from other species. The easiest solution is, have less children immediately. Fortunately, the birth rate has been declining as the developing world is beginning to have smaller families but the rise in population is forecast to increase for the next 35 years or so. Right now what you can do it decide not to have any more mouths to feed.
  2. I have never seen myself as a mother. I know the urge to be a mother usually develops over time. It is just something I do not see for me. 
  3. My body, my choice.
  4. No more pill! I started on the pill at 12!!! I will not longer need to rely on hormones and pharmaceutical companies foe my reproductive health and responsibilities. 
  5. Insurance- Literally the main reason I (and many young women) ever worry about insurance was to pay for the pill. 
  6. Chemical Free, I can live a life less chemically altered than taking hormonal contraceptives for the majority of it. 
  7. Environment, so not only will I be using less chemicals, I will also be reducing the amount of run-off or sewage of contraceptives that get into our water stream and have effected hormone levels in men and children- See article 
  8. Adoption- There are so many children in the world who need a home that it just seems selfish of me to have my own children. My doctor asked me what would happen if I met someone who
    wanted children and I explained that my ideal person would also be thrilled with adoption if we decided to take on children together. Until then I am free to wander, me by my unattached self.
  9. I have more interest in my chicken babies than real ones. 
  10. No more explaining. I will be able to shut down anyone who asks me if or when I'm having kids, again. "I just can't". I really am just saving myself from a lifetime of reproductive questioning and bullying by the mainstream who attempt to devalue me as a woman for my choices. 

I love babies, they are beautiful and necessary to perpetuate our existence. We just have so many, too many and my little drop in the bucket is to not contributing to that. I worry my friends and family with children will judge me as rejecting them and their lifestyles. Please do not. I think your little dears are just precious. My choice does not mean I do not respect yours, but it it my choice. The message for me is, you have one!

Have a lovely day,


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Murder and Meat Mondays

Over the past couple of years I have been on a journey of self discovery and learning about a how to make the food system more sustainable and just for everyone. One of the pieces that I have struggled with is to eat meat or not to. I have been a vegetarian for the better part of 14 years (as described in this post), and have always toted "if I can kill it, I can eat it" as my reasoning behind abstaining. Living in my little corner of heaven on Vancouver Island I am on an organic farm, next door to an organic farm, free range- grass-fed beef farm and an artisan cheese making dairy with SPCA certification. What a place to be for a local food lover.

The Neighbours have been raising 150 unsexed chicks which meant a bunch of unintentional roosters were produced. Working there I saw them butcher a couple a week to eat, they had to be disposed of because too many roosters is a very violent place for chickens. I understood that this was humane, the meat was organic, the animals free run and happily clucked about their days. So why shouldn't I eat this meat?

Because I was given the opportunity and was able to watch a few being processed I worked my way up to be the actual executioner. The knife was placed in my hands and I sawed off its head after a few minutes of squirming. It wasn't pretty, but I got through it. I helped pluck the feathers and the farm roasted and spiced it up. Later I was presented with a piece of chicken,  it could have been any old piece of meat but this time I was responsible for its life. It tasted, a little tough to be honest. I had never tried rooster before but kept seeing the head while I chewed him up. As a recovering vegetarian it was a very odd experience for me and I didn't 100% enjoy it. In the next few days I would work on the leg piece I was given but my body rejected those foreign enzymes I wasn't used to and I was a little sick. 

I tried again soon after, I went for back-bacon from the neighbours freshly butchered hogs, the ones I had personally delivered from the butchers. This time it tasted rather delicious but again my body unaccustomed to any meat was being over loaded and let's just say, that week was a bit icky. Having access to good, local food has definitely been a game changer for my diet and stomach.

Now, I am not about to hit a drive-through and order an unidentifiable cheeseburger any time soon, far from it. But instead, I am incorporating meat into my diet that is local and sustainable from trusted and known sources. I was recently given a meat bonus from work (I know right) that is ground beef from one of the older dairy cows. Other than being the coolest job ever it also means I am using an animal who's meat is not highly valued in the market and using it to its full extent.

I would rather support the industry of small, organic farmers, treating animals fairly and butchering good, sustainable meat sources than revolt an entire system that is other wise a natural part of the human diet. Being a vegetarian ignored so many parts of life that involve animals. Most shoes have leather pieces, cheese has rennet from cows, agriculture is responsible for eco-system destruction and deforestation. At the end of the day all the food we eat negatively impacts the lives of animals and the world around us and none of us from vegan to carnivore are innocent of this. So a balance must be struck. I have a problem with the industrial food system and not small farmers and it is important to remember that.

In the end, support what kind of food you hope everyone can eat one day. For me that is farm fresh and local that includes organic produce, meats & grains. And everything in moderation, Meat Mondays!

In good food,


Monday, 3 October 2016

Post-Summer Update

Goldstream Provincial Park

After a few months off I am back and eager to catch everyone up on my summer and new post grad life! I have left my personal bubble of the university that was a safe space filled with like minded individuals. I have found that the rest of the world has a lot of things to catch up to in their ways of thinking about the environment and sustainability, sometimes frustratingly so. Never the less my new home on Vancouver Island has proven to be a bit of a hub of local food loving and conscientious  people. Be it the burgeoning young farmer and agrarians groups or the musicians and yuppies, people seem to generally agree on one thing- Local food is the bomb diggity! While some of us preach the word others are in the trenches building the foundations of our future food system. I salute you fellow foodies and I beg you spread like wildfire across the landscape.

So many exciting things happened this summer, here is a quick run down:
  • I eat meat! (post coming soon!)
  • Vancouver Island
  • Organic Farming
  • Chickens! 
  • 2 jobs
  • Farmers Markets 6 days a week
  • Moving (again!)
Hard at Work 
This summer has been the most local loving yet and I had a blast doing it. Though my summer contracts are finishing up and I am looking forward to moving on to new projects in the winter months and a bit of a break in between. 

Stay tuned for the next exciting chapters!

XX Melanie

"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." -George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, 4 May 2016


After what felt like 3 very long years, I am finished my undergraduate degree! My time at school has been filled with volunteering, activism, work and a whole lot of learning...most of which I could attribute to outside of the classroom. I learned the most from the activities and work I did with the University Farmers Market, PGPIRG and working with Meal Exchange that will apply to my life outside of school. The fancy piece of paper that I will be paying off for the foreseeable future may not be what I anticipated going into University but the experiences I gained are invaluable and I don't regret for a minute returning to school. For me it was a time of self-discovery that allowed me to explore my interests and build skills. Everyone has a different experience at the end of the day but for me it was the right time and place to continue on this life long learning adventure. Go to school, don't go to school and you can still learn to be a better person, citizen and neighbour to those around you.

Having fast-tracked through a 4-year degree in 3 years time while working multiple jobs and being really involved, I am exhausted. What are you going to do with an Environmental studies degree was the biggest question I asked myself this year. But without missing a beat I packed up my worldly processions, (having given away most of them) and moved down to Vancouver Island. I am relocating to the Nanaimo/Parksville area to work on an organic farm for the summer. After going from a fast pace environment in Toronto, to a busy bee in Prince George I will now be moving at a slower pace in the country side. This presents both challenges and opportunities for me to explore the kind of lifestyle I want to lead and ultimately discover what will allow me to live simply. This area boasts lots of fresh, organic produce, tons of farmers markets, ocean access and a more southern climate. All of these things make me feel like this is the place for me, for the next little while at least.

This transitional time has also been very disruptive to routine and when you travel you are forced to explore communities to find local, sustainable options again. Leaving my comfort zone in Prince George was at first a welcome idea but I already miss knowing where the fair trade coffee is everyday. I also bought my first car, begrudgingly, to move with and drove more in a week than I have in my entire life. I am on a month long vacation and off to Europe to celebrate in the least environmentally way possible by taking a cruise. I will spend the rest of the summer working off my carbon emissions and negating the impact of this month's movement.

These changes will hopefully turn out for the better but only time will tell what is next on this journey for me, work, grad school, life? For now I will continue eating locally, reducing my impact and enjoying life.

Lots of Love,

Melanie XX

"You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your tickets to change the world."  -Tom Brokaw

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

25 Things I've Learned by my 26th Birthday

As I no longer fit into the early 20's category, I find myself qualified to share the wisdom of my youth. Here are the musings of a mid-to- late 20 something:
  1. Check your privilege before you wreck your privilege
  2. Laughter is the best medicine, make others laugh and become a healer. 
  3. Money is for giving away and saving for vacations. 
  4. "You don't need a silver fork to eat good food" Paul Prudhomme 
  5. It's ok to be messy, I've spent too much time stressing about messes that I now embrace as exemplifying a life well lived. 
  6. It's pretty hard to look sexy while eating a salad...
  7. If you don't like you situation in life, change it! Complaining does good for no one.
  8. Embrace change, it's the only way to move forward.
  9. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"- Albert Einstein 
  10. Waste is just unacceptable in todays world, value every resources as precious. 
  11. Go at your own pace, you define what is right for you. Take a month to read a book, take a two hour lunch, take a year or two off!
  12.  Live within your means, don't spend money you don't have, debt is the worst. 
  13. Always wear clean underwear...if your going to wear any at all
  14. I am perfectly happy being perfectly average, my new standard for sustainability. 
  15. "Do not speak unless you can improve the silence" Baroness Rodmilla De Ghent, Ever After 
  16. Do what makes you happy and what will make others happy in the future.
  17. Respect yours elders, and spend a much time learning from them as you can.
  18. Stop trying to fit in when you were born to stand out. There is no normal. 
  19. "To all the girls who think you're fat because you're not a size zero. You are beautiful, it is society that is ugly." Marilyn Monroe
  20. Food is essential to life, therefore make it good. 
  21. Do not measure your self worth in Facebook likes. 
  22. “My weaknesses have always been food and men — in that order.” - Dolly Parton
  23. If you can't kill it yourself, don't eat it. 
  24. You can do and achieve anything you put your mind to, I'm graduating University after all!
  25. 'Live simply so that others may simply live.'- Mahatma Gandhi
Have a lovely day,

XX Melanie 

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Freeganism or Veganism?

Since eating locally has no longer been compulsory in my life after completing my year long challenge, I have been experimenting with how I eat. At times I could be considered vegan. I don't eat meat, cut out eggs and dairy and eat way too many carbs. At times I think I am more vegetarian, opting to buy eggs from a local farmer or cheese when I've met the cow (or goat). Always I am a locavore, choosing to buy local whenever possible and choosing not to buy at all when it is not.

Leftover Ice Cream at the UFM
I do, however, have a confession to make. I've been a vegetarian for 14 years, but last month I ate bacon... and I'm kind of ok with it (after I stopped being violently ill). I know, crazy right! I'm not slipping off the veggie wagon or anything but I am evolving my diet slightly to include meat and dairy. Instead of centering my diet around what I won't eat or where I won't eat I've decided to include food waste reduction as a priority.
Think about all that extra energy that goes into the production of meat. Even though it is the smallest representation of food waste, it is also responsible for the highest emissions (read more here). And after all that goes into its production, from calf to cattle to butcher to processing, can you still justify throwing it out? I am having a battle with my morals on this one, seriously. But I have tried to look at it as an overall goal of reducing harm to the world. I am not creating demand for meat, I am not participating in the production of meat or advocating on its behalf. I am rescuing food that is destined for the garbage bin. Ensuring that at the end of its life cycle the final product was being used for its intended purpose and not contributing to more harm by rotting away in a landfill.

When I chance upon food waste I can be freegan, eating whatever is bound for the bin, be it animal, vegetable or mineral. Just to be clear, I am not going to go on record as a meat eater because, gross. But I am admitting to dumpster diving and leftovers-taking and I am feeling pretty good about it. Every little thing helps in the food waste fight right?

What I am realizing now is that my battle is not with the label I choose to define my eating habit but with ethical consumption. I want to feel good about the choices I make and the food going into my body. What I know is that labels suck, and they don't work for everyone. Am I a vegan? Sometimes, mostly. Am I a freegan? Free-food-eater, yes. I hate food waste. Am I a locavore, yes. Ultimately I prioritize local with all my purchases. Is there a label that applies to me? No, not really, but can we not all just become ethical consumers and make good choices everyday?

In good food,

Melanie XX

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Why You Should STOP Catering Your Events

With the holidays behind us it is time to reflect on the absurdities of excess we experienced over the holiday season. The biggest one of all being all that leftover food that gets thrown out from parties and events when there is just sooo much leftover.

Food Waste in Canada
I'm sure you've heard by now that food waste is a major issue, with up to 40% of all food that is produced being wasted. A lot of waste that we see, especially in an institution, is from catered events and conferences. Catering has systemic issues of processing. The age old custom of ensuring you have enough food to feed everyone has turned into an industry practice. Kitchens will now prepare 10-20%  more food than was ordered to ensure they're is enough if everyone on the guest list shows up and in case there are extra people. Combine this with the often tendency of the organizer to order enough food for how many people you invited instead of realistically how many will pull through in the end. This can be as much as 20-30% higher than the actual attendance of the event. This means you can be left with up to 50% extra food being made than needed...time a million events is a lot of food! What happens to that food? Well if it is served food that is left out, it has to be thrown in the garbage!!!! Because it is no longer food safe or allowed to be donated.
Food Rescued from the garbage

Ok I'll admit that the portion of waste associated with conference and events is less than consumers waste at home (47% of food was is from the consumer). But it's still a big enough number that we should do something about it.

So what can you do?
  • Order less, order 20% less than you think you will need to ensure no food is left over 
  • Consider lighter fair, smaller amounts of food that can be more easily eaten 
  • Ask for half, the kitchen can hold back a portion of the food, food that is prepared but not served can still be donated or reused in the kitchen. 
  • Bring containers, or ask for take out containers so guests can take leftovers home. Otherwise, they will be thrown out.
  •  Don't order! Have drinks instead or try potluck style for less formal events. 
Or maybe you could be like me and run around trying to salvage leftovers before caterers return to dispose of them ;) Yum!


Melanie XX

"Waste not, Want not" -Proverb