Monday, November 24, 2014

Attention shoppers, your food is shrinking!




image courtesy of www.thestar.com

But your grocery bill isn't.

We all know that shopping for food is either going to be tolerable to you, or a giant pain in the ass. However way you feel about it, it has to be done. But have you noticed that your food bill seems to be increasing, while the size of certain items may actually be decreasing?

Look at the packaging of bacon for example. It has definitely decreased in size, but yet the pricing remains the same. Have you noticed? If you think about what you've bought lately, are suspicious things starting to jump out at you that you disregarded at the time of purchase? The bacon example is just one of many shifts and changes being made by various food organizations. These changes are effecting the food you buy in the grocery store, and it's happening as quickly AND quietly as possible.

It's very easy to overlook what's going on right in front of your eyes in the world of food, but luckily there is a website that will help you pay attention - check it out, it's called Consumer World. I am not attached to this site, but I am doing my part to increase it's profile because I believe there is definite need for this information to be accessible for all consumers. It's a simple but effective site, not only in raising awareness of any changes to the food you enjoy, but also any changes in overall consumer practices.

Read, learn and be vigilant!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

More tales from the modelling crypt* Update!



I swear I've done just about every pose found in this picture - image courtesy of freepsdfiles.net

(Scroll down for the updated info)

I can't help but notice that the posts about my modelling past attracts quite a bit of attention from readers of this blog. That's cool to know and I'm happy to write about it, occasionally.

As I've said in previous posts about modelling, time has given me a better perspective of my fashion sentencing. What's even better, is that I'm also realizing the time spent looking pretty may be playing a bigger part in my ongoing career pursuit within the world of food that I originally thought.

I suppose in some ways you could tie the two industries together in a positive way, and I think, thanks to the blog, I'm doing it, right here, right now. Ah, you just knew it was coming, the musical tie -in! Why hello there Jesus Jones, where have you been all these years?.

It must be said that the modelling industry is a total trip. Anyone who has been in it, still in it, passed through it, whatever would have to agree. When I say it's a trip, I mean it's just so out there that again, when I think about my time in it, I sometimes wished I had felt a bit more comfortable and relaxed about the whole experience.

The things you see, the things you wear. Hell, even the things you have to do to get jobs. No, nothing gross I quickly add, just really random, stupid things they'd make you to do to get a "glimpse" of your personality.

It could range from hilarious to humiliating. Hilarious, when your story about getting lost in Paris and nearly choking on a baguette actually makes people laugh and you end up landing that great campaign. Humiliating, when you're forced to make out with some random stranger and ultimately discover the reasons why some actors are paid very well to fake passion and make it look so real for an audience.

You've got to develop a very thick skin to handle the ups and downs. Of course, not literally develop a thick skin because you know, it is modelling, and any sort of weight gain is not the goal (ahem). More importantly, you have to take very, very good care of that thick/thin skin.

Here's a tip future fashion girls and boys: starving yourself is not the way to take care of yourself. Of course I have twenty years of hindsight and therapy to back me up now, but I sure didn't and wouldn't understand those words of wisdom if I was told back in the day. Hey, better to understand it later rather than never, right?

Oh modelling, what a weird world you were. It's very true when it's said that guys really aren't a big deal when it comes to that world. Ok, maybe now that's changed thanks to the incredible rise of male supermodel David Gandy, but he's like one in a million who actually makes money!

Seriously though, it is by no means a lucrative way of life for men as it is for women. So you can just imagine how small potatoes I was on that farm. Hey, did you see the food reference there? I knew I'd continue to find ways to tie the two industries together.

After leaving that insane (but fun) world behind, I began the pursuit of a career in writing, communications and food including culinary school and ended up here, in this hard to define world of whatever life throws at me. All these adventures in modelling, cooking, writing, makes me wonder what my life would have been like if I just stuck to an actual career that could be defined?

It definitely would have been easier. Having an actual word or words, or some description that defines your career really helps people relax around you. It's quite something to watch how unsure people become around you when you tell them you don't know what you're doing, but dammit you have a plan and you'll just see where it takes you. Career fluidity is not embraced as much as we'd like it to be.

I've realized, with an ounce of humour and a cup of trepidation, that I am once again in a world where you can't make any money unless you're well known. Struggling is never fun, and although it's necessary, I don't really recommend it. I will, however, say that learning about the world, whether it's been through modelling or cooking, or writing about both, has been the absolute best part of travelling down this less known world of an undefined career.

I still wonder where all this 'experience' will lead. My friend said hopefully he won't see me picking up garbage by the side of the highway. I said that if you do, I'll be the best dressed, well travelled guy doing it! Which reminds to put this little mind bender out there. I read this on my twitter feed and its stuck with me ever since. If you were given a book that was all about your life, right up to the present day, but then actually goes on to tell you how your life will end, would you read it?

Food for thought.

*UPDATE. Oh yeah, and one more old modelling pic from 1994. Man, you just couldn't escape the 'grunge' look even if you tried! Please scroll down, but before you do, I'll share a little story about the picture.

I remember this shoot the most out all the things I've done, because it was the only time I really hated modelling. The photographer was a complete asshole who kept calling me Mike no matter how many times I told him my name. Not to mention, he LOVED the model who is walking beside me in the picture. He made that very, very clear, and kept pushing me and the other model to the back. Hence, the shitty lighting on both of us, while long haired model looked amazing. To be fair, long haired model was a really nice guy and the days events were not his fault.

I sincerely didn't give a shit whom the photographer preferred, then or now, but I do recall the creative directors in charge of the shoot had to tell him to stop doing that and get us in the shots. I know. Drama. But Holy F*ck I wanted to kill the photographer (and yes I remember his name, but no snitching allowed in this story)! I must say though, that I'm pretty proud of the fact that the picture turned out ok and that I'm smiling somewhat naturally on what was a very shitty day. Oh well, I got paid for it so it's all good.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Food attack! The tangled price we pay..





image courtesy of www.mnn.com

..of where we choose to eat and play. Hey, not bad eh? I did the best I could with that old-school quote, so passing marks for trying? Since I started writing the post, I've had the song "Heart Attack" by Olivia Newton John in my head. Hey, I can't help what pops into my head! I'm changing the lyrics from heart to food attack. Why? because I can and it's fun. You try it - sing it here!

Lets get back on track here. It doesn't need to be said just how much my hometown city of Toronto is changing. Or maybe it does. It's on par with some of the top cities on the planet as one of the most expensive places to live. Particularly in the downtown core of the city where I live. Luckily, I've been (somewhat) smart about where and how I spend my money, but a recent trip to the grocery store got me thinking about the price I really pay to eat and live in a desirable part of town. Is it even worth it?

My recent grocery bill was $75.52. I know. That is crazy costs for one person for one weeks worth of food, although maybe not surprising. As you know, my dear reader, having caught a glimpse into my culinary life based on this blog, I like to eat well. And if you are surprised, get Taylor Swift in your head and shake it off because you shouldn't be surprised. At all.

Yikes, I've quoted Taylor Swift and Olivia Newtown John. In the same post. Please don't give up or leave yet, there is a point to all of this, I promise!

I know this has been written ad nauseam in various magazines, online financial editorials and newspapers, but it must be repeated often because it may not be getting though to people. If you plan on moving to Toronto, especially downtown, be prepared to pay heavily for it.

The grocery bill highlighted above would shake anyone who lives outside of the city. I can almost hear the suburban voices telling me to drive somewhere else to get cheaper items. What a great idea! I'll just plunk myself in a Zipcar, endure Toronto's notorious traffic gridlock for hours, just to potentially save myself seven cents off the total bill? No thanks.

I do agree that the costs for food is very high, but that's what happens when you choose to be in a place where everyone else wants to be. More people means more chances to make money, and that includes the food industry. It is not exempt from price gauging. Have you seen the cost of bacon lately?

I have chosen to live in a desirable spot in the city, therefore the price I pay not only to eat, but for just about everything else I need, will be quite high. That's just basic economics. I understand this,I may not like it, but I've determined that it is worth it for me to be where I am.

Can I save money on my future grocery bills living in the central part of the city? But of course! People don't blow their horns about the amazing St Lawrence Market, Chinatown or Kensington Market for nothing. Visiting these places can help you can save a ton on your purchases of fresh fruit and veggies. And yes, even the meat and fish are a bit more affordable than your regular grocery store.

My motto for downtown food lovers: "Seek and ye shall find true savings, and avoid the dreaded grocery bill shock attack."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Modelling and food: A hungry memory




images courtesy of www.betcheslovethis.com and www.boredpanda.com

Food and body image - always at war.

In a previous post, I had written about my modelling past. For any new viewers of the blog, you may read it here. In that post, I happily acknowledging that yes, I was a photo whore and finally, after years of denial, have owned it. It turned out to be a pretty popular post . Yes, I did talk about the fun it was at the time, and there are a few accompanying pics scattered within the post that I'm actually quite proud of. What I didn't mention, was what I had to do from a food perspective to be able to even stay in that business.

When I was first approached about becoming a model, I was scouted shopping in my hometown Barrie's Eaton's department store. Aw, I miss Eaton's, but I digress. I was young, just 21 years old, and in university. I was also working part-time at a catering company. When you combine all of those ingredients, it turned into a mess of excessive partying, lots of drinks, good food from work, bad food off work, late night study periods, all leading to the dreaded college weight gain. The weight gain happened to a lot of us, save for the most disciplined. I was not disciplined. I didn't take the scout seriously, and forgot about it.

It wasn't until I was stopped for the second time a few years later on the subway in Toronto, that the possibility of being a model might not actually be a joke. I took a good look at myself and thought, "Ok, if people are interested in you, and you're a bit overweight, perhaps a little diet might be a good idea before you even think about plunging into this modelling thing."

So that's what I did. But replace diet with starve.

I will say straight off the bat, that the diet idea at the time was of my own doing. The agency was not up my ass about my looks or weight. I just knew that my stomach could use some toning. I was by no means an expert on what the word 'diet' really entailed, but I certainly believed that I did at the time. I'm still uncertain to this day about it's true meaning, other than it has the word 'die' with the letter 'T' attached to it. 'Nuff said, because you really feel like you are depriving yourself of all the fabulous things you, well, maybe what I love to eat. Cake, pie, chips, greasy burgers, croque monsieurs mmm. All that great stuff, everything that was allegedly so gross and tasty? Gone.

I became consumed with cutting out meat, alcohol, cutting everything I deemed to be 'bad'. I became subsistent on a diet of a slice of bread with tuna, and maybe, maybe a banana or an orange. Or, it could be a small portion of fried rice and vegetables. Or, if I really wanted to be wild? Grapes. I started to become more vigorous with exercising, and I lost a ton of weight. I also became 'that guy'. You know whom I'm referring to. The ones who say to everything on a menu "Oh, I can't eat that, I'm a vegetarian." Or, "I can't drink that, I've stopped drinking," along with "Do you know how bad drinking is for you, and blah blah blah?" In other words, a total killjoy.

The thing was, I wasn't even close to being a real vegetarian or anything approaching healthy. Ordering a filet of fish instead of a Big Mac does not a vegetarian make. I really was completely misguided, but I suppose I can partly blame that on being young and uninformed. I mean lets be fair here, the internet did not exist and yes, I suppose a visit to the library would have been a good choice to do research, but why? Everything - from a 'diet 'perspective, at that time was working out so well. Sure, my Mother was terrified at my weight loss, as were my friends, and rumours of my having an eating disorder started to pop out of no where, which really sucked. Oh well, I was making money!

I know that the modelling industry is what you make of it. You are making decisions that you may deem worth doing or not, like anything else in life. I regret nothing about that life. Of course, now that I'm older, with an eye to possibly, maybe, potentially entering back into the world I left behind, I'm becoming a bit - ok, a LOT more aware of what I'm eating and drinking. If you think I'm cutting out the good stuff, you'd be very wrong. I love to eat and I love a good drink - he states clearly as he builds a career around those two subjects. I'm just much more disciplined about portion control and making sure I balance that with lots of exercise. That's right, I became disciplined, and yes I shocked myself but it can happen people!

As it turns out, eating well is always fantastic, but being able to eat what you like and be healthy, feel and look great while doing it is really the ultimate reward.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We are Canadians: Strong and Free




image courtesy of www.pinterest.com

I love my country, and I am very proud to be Canadian.

The horrific events that have happened today in Ottawa, and on Monday in Quebec, has truly been a shock to our country's collective system. Canadians are well aware that we are not immune from terrible events, but the shootings on Parliament Hill, in our nations capital, is so against the Canadian 'way' - if I can call it that, that I, and many, many others are deeply stunned that it actually happened here. Completely shocked.

I worry what this event could do to the country. My hope is that it pulls us together and creates an even stronger, united country. But, I also know that the safe haven in which we have always viewed our home country, has now been irrevocably compromised. Worse, I worry that this event might be used in a way that will challenge the Canadian way of life, our attitudes, our ability to empathize, all of it, in a negative way.

The majority of Canadians know how lucky we are to live in such an amazing country. We know, and we have tried to never take that for granted. If we did, are eyes are wide open now. We will get through this, and more importantly, we will work hard to ensure that this event will not be used as a political, racial, or social weapon to be used against others. In any way.

The events today will not change who we are: the truth north, strong and free.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Observations: sloth day continued


Ok, so I'm adding a few observations to my previous post about sloth day.

1) Exactly whom constitutes an afternoon 'regular' audience for AMC? I mean the commercials alone. In the past hour, I've seen adverts for Passages Malibu (an expensive rehab clinic), car and financial loan shark commercials, terrible fast food schlock and Walmart.

I'll hazard a guess that it might be wealthy, bored, possibly drugged or drunk housewives or husbands who need help, but don't know it yet? It could be college and/or high school students with the same issues as the aforementioned housewives/husbands? Or, maybe it's people that might need money right away, and need to see the adverts to know whom to contact?

Whatever the reason, all demographics mentioned have terrible taste in TV movies (says the man watching Friday the 13th - Jason takes Manhattan).

2) Now that I've written that I'm having a lazy day, all of a sudden I'm pumped and ready with like fifty (ok, slight exaggeration) topics to cover for the blog. What?

3) Lastly, I really miss New York. That absolute crap movie 'Jason Takes Manhattan', is making me want to visit. Oh, I have an idea on what you may be thinking dear reader. It is indeed a very odd, somewhat disturbing connection to make, but there you have it.

It has been a few years (8 years to be exact), so maybe it's time? If I do go, you've read the reason and seen the proof right here. It wasn't the food or culture that pushed me, it was a Friday the 13th movie.

Thanks awful movie for the potential New York visit inspiration!

Oh, and you knew I'd include the movie poster (see below) - you know, just for effect.



image courtesy of www.i-mockery.com

A slothful day keeps the panic at bay




images courtesy of themiracleisaroundthecorner.wordpress.com

Taking a personal break from the world of food is tough, especially when you're life and career is dependant on it. Every once and a while though, there comes a time when stepping away is good for the senses, the mind and yes, the stomach. Or so you tell yourself.

For the past few days (weeks?), I've been vacillating between the panic buttons of "Oh my God, I've written nothing for the blog!" and "Oh my God, I have nothing to say to warrant writing for the blog!" I woke up this morning thinking that I've got to get a grip and calm the hell down, because eventually I'll figure it out. Eventually. In the meantime, perhaps giving the mind a break to regroup is on the agenda. Hello there day of sloth!

We live in a world that doesn't care much for people who 'take breaks'. This is a go get 'em world, and you have to be on your toes all the freaking time. And if you're not doing something, feelings of guilt usually set up shop in your mind.

The truth is, we need breaks. People are creating even more gadgets to make sure we never get a break from life. There are wristbands to monitor you when you sleep. They are apps that tell you what you're eating for breakfast is probably shit, and you need this or that to get you through another 9-10 hours (or more depending on your job) of work.

There's exercise we should do but never get to, thus feeling guilty about it. There's the last email you'd like to ignore but can't, because it could be important and we feel personally, and more than likely professionally, pressured aka guilty for not answering it. Turns out to be another advertisement for printing cartridges.

It never ends. No breaks plus guilt, guilt, guilt. It's like the Catholic church has taken over the mindset of the world. Trust me, they own guilt.



image courtesy of www.thedigitalistas.com

To be able to wake up and decide one morning that you'll be damned if you're going to do a thing today,well that's a luxury that should never be taken for granted. It also never happens for most people. I know plenty of friends and family who couldn't fathom the idea of not being active somehow, even if they had the time to do it. To not be active is a form of weakness. I understand that, but today, I've decided not to follow that mode of thinking.

Now admittedly I have had a few 'do nothing' days in my life. Ok, a lot. I am well aware of how "do nothing" is viewed by family, friends and/or strangers, but nonetheless, I'm putting it out there. I will enjoy it, but I'll add that it's tinged with a slight bit of guilt. See? the boy can leave Catholicism, but it never leaves the boy.

Screw it. Panic over deadlines can wait. I've got leftover Argentinian short ribs, mash potatoes and greens, and a brownie that won't eat itself for lunch today. There's a horror marathon on AMC that's begging me to watch it. It's the entire Friday the 13th series today, and it really does get progressively worse as the sequels continue - I can't believe this freaked me out in the 80s!

It's my do nothing day, and it's going to be gross.

I mean good. Once I finish this post of course.