CFN – How many of you reading this have lived under the poverty line? How many are living it now? Those on social assistance here in Ontario and across Canada have very little extra left from their income to buy food. Many rely on the kindness of strangers and food banks for survival.
Canadian writer and songstress Bif Naked helped create awareness Nationally recently when she championed the Raise the Rates campaign in British Columbia.
Bif lives in Beautiful BC now although is originally born in New Delhi! She grew up in Winnipeg. A strict raw food vegan she also is a survivor of Cancer.
She breaks it down to surviving on $3 per day for food. That’s less than the cost of a cup of coffee and muffin in many chain places that so many of us stop at every morning.
That’s only $21 per week. Of course malnutrition leads to medical care in short and the long term. Does it make any sense for people in this day and age to live on these amounts in a country like Canada in 2014?
TV interview with BIF
CFN asked Bif some questions as well which she graciously and kindly answered for us.
What inspired you to drive this initiative?
What inspired me to join the Welfare Food Challenge this year was my complete dismay learning that people
were living on this amount of assistance. And even less.
It was that I became aware of the situation and wanted to help lend my voice.
How much more expensive is it to be Vegan on $3 per day?
I don’t think it is “more expensive” to be a vegan (than a non-vegan) in fact my guess is that it costs more (money) to purchase meats.
But it IS more expensive to buy organic zucchinis than it is to buy ground up meat.
That is a fact. I could not afford organic vegetables on welfare. I could not afford very MANY vegetables on welfare, in fact.
I would go hungry trying to eat how I normally eat with my fruits and vegetables, and rice and ramen noodles are cheaper. Terrible eating.
Many people want to eat locally. Is that even possible for those living in poverty?
It is very expensive for me to eat “locally” unless it’s just from simple folks’ gardens, or something.
Definitely the smaller markets are okay but many of the local “artisan” markets are too expensive.
How do you feel when you see how much our governments spend and waste while so many live below the poverty line?
Every person has an opinion about how, and where, their elected governments should spend money.
Every person is right. Whether it is poverty reduction, healthcare, education, etc.
It is very, very difficult to spend adequately on anything. Everyone has their own cause.
It would be extremely difficult to be a politician.
A politician is unable to please everyone, and those whom are pleased are only a “little bit” pleased for a very short time.
If you could sing a magic song and change the system in Canada (or BC) what would be the single most important factor to you to change?
My song would be called “Change Everything”. Haha! I can not possibly settle on just one thing.
What is your favourite food when you have a craving and can you eat it on $3 per day?
My favourite food is currently spinach. I can eat spinach on three dollars a day, just not as much as I would normally eat. I eat A LOT.
Most stores only give out their best prices when you purchase larger quantities ( meat for example)
Do you think we need to ask retailers to offer items in smaller quantities at the same prices?
Yes, it would be great if retailers gave us more discounts, of course.
But it is probably not possible. Or, my belief is that they would be doing it.
Have you learned any new recipes or techniques while eating on $ per day? Are there any that you will stick with after?
I have learned that I love having brown and brown basmati rice in my salads!
This is a new effort for me and I have discovered it may be better for me,
especially when I need more energy during the long workdays I often experience.
PLUS, to discover adding freshly chopped dill to said rice, as well as almonds folded in right before serving (to keep them crunchy).
I have also discovered that I am deeply attached to Frank’s Red Hot and Extra Hot hot sauces. I prefer my mouth to burn.
What tips do you have for people that will take the challenge?
The tips I have for people to take the challenge next year is definitely to share their experience and blog or micro-blog about it.
The real purpose is to draw attention to, and raise awareness about,
the inadequate rates for welfare and how that looks for someone trying to feed themselves or their families.
Plus, when you are doing something for the greater good, the uncomfortable aspects of the challenge are unnoticeable.
Do you think communal cooking can help by sharing resources?
I am a huge fan of communal cooking and wish my own apartment building had a community kitchen instead of individual kitchens,
forcing everyone to eat together as a community. Haha!
I might be the only one in my building who attends though. I am the only one who would like to implement this, I am sure. 🙂
CFN is proud to be announcing that we are going to create our own $21 challenge. We will have a group of viewers participate and write about what they did to survive on $3 per day including myself, editor Jamie Gilcig. Participants can only count food they purchase with their $3 per day and cannot access friends or other sources of food during the week.
We’ll be doing a follow up interview with Bif after as well.
We asked our local food bank to participate but Director Alyssa Blais has not responded.
If you wish to be a part of our local initiative email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our hotline at 855 444 1133