CFN One on One With Bif Naked Will You Take the $21 Food Challenge for Poverty Awareness?

1024px-Bif_nakedCFN  – 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 or call our hotline at 855 444 1133
To learn more about Bif Naked check out website at

Photo: Wikipedia



  1. Living below the poverty line for several years, I was surprised to receive a notice that I owed another $150 on top of the taxes I had paid the year before. I wrote a note explaining that true enough I was supporting an out of work spouse and child and had been blowing my money on groceries and diapers. I wrote a cheque for the outstanding amount on the back of a shirt, and hoped they’d get the message… a month later I received my bank statement and the “cancelled shirt”, which had been dutifully cashed and stamped “FOR DEPOSIT TO THE RECEIVER GENERAL CANADA”.

  2. Only One comment on your article Jamie?People deepdown really don.t give a rats ass about people who need help, be it for any reason.In there minds if you need help your a lazzie bum. Get out and get a job you bum are most responses.

  3. Author

    Yes Marc, The reality is that Poverty isn’t an issue in Cornwall. Even the Agape wouldn’t respond to take part in this. It’s very sad when a food bank plays petty personal politics over principle.

  4. I disagree with Marc. I think people do care about people that need help. Poverty isn’t an issue in Cornwall?

  5. Author

    Hugger I respectfully disagree with you. I watched Gary Samler’s work fall on deaf ears. It’s not just sexy compared to hockey or the CTS. Mix in horrible management at Agape and it just kills the public’s interest locally.

    I swear if I were looking for a job in Cornwall I’d love to take over the Agape and I’d do it for half of what Alyssa makes.

  6. I guess it depends on what people see is how things are perceived. But like they say perception is reality. And a question…..what is the CTS?

  7. I lived below poverty line until I got my first job. Then again going through my divorce but I got my butt out do bed and did housework, did some private respite care for the elderly so as far as I am concerned you have to save yourself make your own wealth.. Today I am very comfortable… I also prefer helping one family than donating to places that I do not know where my money is going. I have worked too long and hard and I think some of the poor need to do the same.

  8. Receiving welfare is not intended to be a comfortable perfect alternative existence or lifestyle. A handout is something that is received by someone who either feels entitled or is a non contributor (taker). A hand up is something that is appreciated and inspires one to become self sufficient and a contributor.

    I personally have no desire to pay Agape salaries. I do not support the massive overhead that the United Way business incurs in the name of charity. So how does a giving person assist someone who would like to better themselves and become a contributing member of society rather than merely survive as a leech of a socialist system?

    Once a year I find a deserving family/individual and extend a hand up. Nothing lost to administration, advertising or salaries and overhead expenses. I call it simply, charity.

  9. Author

    David that’s lovely; but in the reality of today we live in an engineered society that leaves far too many trapped in poverty. I myself right now struggle as I have no drug or health plan as a small business owner in a struggling market that is under attack.

    There are many people that would be working that are not today because of our high minimum wage and over head for employers. Can you blame so many for moving offshore?

    The residual effect is many that simply have not found their way for one reason or another.

    Now here’s the catch. If we don’t help people sustain a basic life we end up spending far more on legal, justice, and health care costs. It’s the bottom line.

    So if we can subsidize jobs as we do; IE the province just gave Honda a huge financial incentive, and if we can gerrymander our economy then we should be able to provide a basic humane minimum that those that fall through the cracks. It’s not about charity; it’s about our society.

  10. Jeea, I hate it when I agree with Jules and / or Furtz. Now I’m agreeing with Jamie. Will the insanity never end?

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