Why Antler may end up Being the Fort Sumter of the Hipster Civil War

There is a hipster civil war a brewing.  You need to look no further than the recent antics around Antler restaurant for proof.  In recent weeks, the vegan movement has come head to head with knife wielding carnivores who’s expression comes more from what they make look pretty on a plate. This battle has received widespread media attention and has polarized the otherwise unified youth movement. In a nutshell, Antler has been scrutinized about their claims regarding the ethical treatment of animals.  Farmed game meats and the abhorrent appearance of fois gras on the menu seems in stark contrast to the restaurant’s statement.  As a result, on some of the busiest dining nights of the week, protesters have periodically riddled the streets in front of Antler donning signs and chanting sayings defending our four-legged friends. In retaliation, owner Michael Hunter (I mean with the name Hunter can you blame him???)  decided to first take one of those friends and demonstrate his butchery through the front window, cook it up and down it in front of the crowd using the same medium.  Understandably, the vegan protesters “were in shock”.   The subsequent social media comments have been as polar as opinions towards Trump. Some are posting that they are planning to make a reservation ASAP while others are speaking out and calling for a full out ban of the Dundas St. eatery.  I can’t confirm whose winning the battle other than noting that blogTo reports that reservations have soared in the days following the latest standoff. Personally, although I’m off meat at the moment, I’m tempted to book one myself.

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/03/27/protesters-say-restaurant-owner-made-show-of-eating-meat-in-response-to-animal-rights-demonstration.html

The clash between those trying to save animals and those who would rather  grave them  is nothing new.  Humanity’s position on the food chain has always been up for much interpretation. This situation, however, goes well beyond this argument alone. In other words,  the ongoing battle is more than just the fundamental rights of an individual to behave and function within societal laws; it’s the morality around why they do it.

I’m not sure where I sit on this issue. Do we have the right to disrupt a legal business because we don’t like their philosophy?  On the flip side, do businesses have the right to brand themselves using, in the eyes of some,  ethical pretenses?   Finally, regardless of the action, was the owner justified in his actions given they occurred within his own establishment? To me, it’s not an argument about meat;it’s merely the scape”goat” (God..that joke was baaaad) or maybe more appropriately, the catalyst which accelerated  the aforementioned hipster civil war.  You see, what we have here if a battle between two entitled groups who believe their own righteous philosophies trump the other.   I can’t say it’s much different that the American civil war…minus the guns and widespread fatalities of course. Instead, Antler may in fact be the Fort Sumter of this millennial battle, with placards, tweets and deer limb replacing muskets and knives. Perhaps entrepreneurial carnivores are deemed the south in the sense that they support slavery; but in this case that of our avian, mammalian and piscine friends.

So how do we end the standoff? Perhaps we can halt the mean-natured posts and public displays of gluttony by drafting a constitution of hipster behaviour.  It would outline acceptable behavior yet have room for amendments based on the ever changing trends of a millennial’s world.   This document could be posted on facebook, reddit or other social media channels and come complete with amendment suggestions from the likes of @dontmeatmefordinner or @nosetotailneverfails. Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • The right to bear meat.  Conditions would include the right to carry concealed meat but public displays would be reserved for grocery stores, butcher shops or display windows along Spadina avenue. Otherwise, animal foodstuffs could be displayed in private spaces providing the windows are opaque or have sufficient glare during dinner hours.
  •  The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects , restaurants against unreasonable searches and seizures  protesters and  placards shall not be violated, and no Warrants  really mean social media posts shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath  instagram or affirmation  twitter, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. challenged. 
  • Just don’t lie about shit including claims about ethical treatment of anything or things like GMOs, free range, fair trade, farm to table, organic, natural, sugar-free, gluten free, omega-3, air-chilled, low carb, high carb or no carb. Also, no absurd claims about cocktails (ie that vodka martinis are better than gin ones or that old fashioneds should be made out of rye instead of bourbon) should be made.

My Take

Regarding the Antler situation, I think I’ll exercise my constitutional right and plead the fifth. I see both sides of the story but will  stick to the fact that this issue is bigger than the safety and welfare of animals.  It’s an egotistical battle fueled by self-righteousness and entitlement on both sides.  It will be interesting to see how this one “pans” out…but perhaps the affected parties can sit down and resolve it over a plate of GMO-free gnocchi in an agreed upon neutral restaurant which is not owned by a conglomerate of course.

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I Can Save More Than Walter O’Brien’s IQ on a box of Froot Loops

Some people are addicted to television. For some it’s booze. Others it’s food.  For me, it’s all three.  From a television perspective, I watch the spectrum but I’m partial to dramas.  From gritty HBO shows to cheesy cable crime fighting, I’m a sucker for it all.  One show I’m partial to is Scorpion, the absolutely ridiculous account of the life of Walter O’Brien, a man who supposedly recorded an IQ of 197, the 4th highest in history.   Him and his band of social misfits (including the actor who played “Shit Break” in the  American Pie franchise) hang in a garage and await for various facets of the government to call them for help landing planes, breaking codes or minimizing the impact of natural disasters in urban areas.  There seems to be no job too difficult for the crew but I doubt even Scorpion’s team of geniuses can match the kind of magic people like April and Chastity can perform during a episode of TLC’s extreme couponing.

scorpion walter o'brien
A Striking Resemblance

Couponing has evolved from the days of clipping paper with the same skill set required as needlepoint to needing a post-secondary education in advanced mathematics to decipher deals driven by algorithms which consist of more variables than a quadratic equation. For the purposes of argument, I will focus on my trifecta of food cost savings; flyers, checkout 51 and  PC points.

Flyers

Flyers are the blueprint of the ultimate cost saving experience. A mere glance through  the colourful pages tells you where the cheapest bread, potatoes or Nutella are.  For some, they price match.  Personally, I am against the practice of price matching for two reasons.  First, I hate making people wait for me and the thought of rifling through pages of pictures like I’m looking at mugshots after witnessing a crime makes me very uncomfortable.  Second,  I hate when I’m wrong and the last thing I want to do is be corrected by a snotty 18 year old cashier when I try and price match the wrong jug of Tropicana orange juice. I cringe at the thought of her snarled nose as she tells me “Sorry sir, but that’s the three point forty nice litre jug you have, NOT the two point sixty three litre one”. Rumour has it that grocery stores will phase out price matching in the near future.

There is a list of grocery items I refuse to buy unless they are on sale which includes pop, yogurt and cereal.  I also have a strict rule that I will not pay more than $0.25 per roll of toilet paper.  I won’t pay triple figures for pasta or a box of Kraft Dinner and cheddar cheese needs to be less that $5 a block. For other items, it’s like playing the price is right; you just get used to the prices and can easily bust into a game of grocery game or Hi Lo at a moment’s notice. In order to enforce these rules, I often need a detailed itinerary to ensure maximum efficiency. This involves minimizing unnecessary driving and understanding which stores will have the highest chance of such items in stock.

Checkout 51

I got hooked on the Checkout 51 app about a year ago and have since banked just shy of $250.  The premise seems simple enough.  Every week, you get a list of products which, after purchase, you scan the receipt and receive a cash reward.  There are numerous advantages to this app. First, in most cases (unless otherwise stated), you can buy the products anywhere.  Second, there are often big name and well recognized products such as Tide, Kellogg’s cereal and hair/beauty products like Dove, Axe, Pantene etc.  There are also practical deals for things like..umm…lady essentials.  On the fun side, you’ll get the odd McDonald’s offer and even discounted BOOZE including a few bucks off select beer, wine and even spirits.

The bad news is the fact that many of the offers are limited in number and there are cases when I got home and was too late to scan my receipt. Damn them!  Also, you have to remember not to use your receipt as a facial tissue or a chewed gum depot before you have had a chance to snap a shot.  Another factor is the fact that many of the deals repeat themselves and before you know it, you have a arsenal of dish soap large enough to survive a zombie apocalypse.

The need for Walter O’Brien comes in again when you are offered further savings for buying multiple items.  For example, sometimes if you buy 4 back to school products they will throw another $1 into your account the next week and yes, I have gone to 4 different stores to get the 4 items to get the extra buck.  I never said I didn’t have a problem.

PC Points

The introduction of PC points was deemed an evolution in points programs.  This promised to be a smarter program which analysed your buying patterns and offered deals on that basis.  It’s a bit creepy and at the same time a bit random. I mean, I get offered points for dog food regularly but this week I can save on farmer’s market muffins and boxed meat;two things I never buy although I’ve been with the program for well over a year.

You accumulate points until you have at least 20 000.  Some people will redeem ASAP while others will let the points build with some expectation that at some point they may be able to buy the store or have enough t buy food for their kid’s university career.  For me, I save the points until I have to buy something I hate spending money on.  This year, I got a great Fraser Fir at Christmas time for free.

Once again, the services of Scorpion may be required to understand PC points. The issue is the way the points are awarded.  For example, last week  I could get 1000 points for every $4 spent on Tre Semme hair care.  With three girls in the house, this was a no brainer.  The problem was the product was on sale for $3.97.  So, by buying two I got 1000 points because I was six cents short of 8 bucks. The other problem is you can only redeem an offer once.  For example, you may get 100 points for every dollar you spend on beef.  If you want to get steak at Loblaw and ground beef at Superstore, you need to decide which would cost you more and go there first so you don’t waste you deal on the cheaper product. Another reason to have Mr. O’Brien on speed dial.

The Trifecta

One of the most gratifying grocery shopping experiences is when you complete the trifecta in which you find a flyer deal which is also on checkout 51 and offers PC points.  This happens about an often as an eclipse but is just as exciting. It goes something like this…you open up the No Frills flyer to see Delissio pizzas on for $4.44.  When you open the PC points app, you also see that you get 1000 PC (the equivalent of a dollar) for every $4 spent. Finally, you flip open Checkout 51 to see that you can get a buck off a pizza as well.  In the end, the pizza costs $2.44 and you feel like you won the lottery.

My Take

I’ll admit I have a problem but I get great joy when it comes to saving money on food. Sure, I sometimes buy things I really don’t need so I build up PC points or Checkout 51 dollars but in the end a little extra time can lead to big savings and bragging rights.  Yeah..that’s right.  I have sent pictures to friends with step by step pictures and text showing  how I earned three cents buying Dove antiperspirant with a flyer special, Checkout 51 and a sheet on stick on coupons I got from a buddy and  keep in my trunk for a rainy day.  In the end, I’m no Walter O’Brien (although I could use his help sometimes) but I think keeping my mind sharp with couponing not only saves me money on shampoo but saves me having to subscribe to luminosity.com to spare my cognitive decline.

 

 

 

 

John Nist, James Brown and the Bastardization of Humanity’s Most Beloved Staple.

Bread is one of the most powerful foods on the planet.    Each region of the world has taken this simple staple and has adapted it to reflect local taste, ingredients and artisan influence. There is spiritual meaning in this staple.  Roman Catholics equate bread to the body of Jesus Christ.  In the old testament, manna rained from the heavens during times of desert travel. Bread is the focal point of famous works of art throughout many centuries.  In 1498, Leonardo Di Vinci finished the last supper which depicted the sharing of bread among Jesus and his apostles.  Picasso’s “The Blind Man’s Meal” was a haunting painting featuring a small loaf of bread is characteristic of his blue period. One of the most famous pictures of the 20th century was “Grace” by American Eric Enstrom which simply shows a man saying grace in front of a loaf of bread.

The Blind Man's Meal by Pablo Picasso-1903
The Blind Man’s Meal by Pablo Picasso-1903
Grace by Eric Enstrom 1918
“Grace” by Eric Enstrom 1918

I think bread is the fashion of the food world. I grew up in a post-hippy financially constrained family. My clothes were like my bread….most times I ate Cecutti’s white bread while wearing leisure pants.  I was content.  It was a simple time. Grocery aisles weren’t lined with designer bread..choices were limited primarily to brown or white.Weekends were more exciting, which included a ride to Golden Grain bakery in Sudbury after church followed by a rush home so butter could be slathered on the loaf of Dark Rye while it was still warm.

One of my most vivid memories of high school was when my grade 13 teacher recited a poem called  Revolution: The Vicious Circle by John Nist. He quietly sat and started muttering the word bread, repeating it over an over, raising his voice each time.  By the fifth bread he was screaming like a lunatic and suddenly recited the word dead with the speed of a machine gun. After a brief pause he repeated the bread mantra again with the same deliberate crescendo, ending with a BREAD! that even woke up the dude in the back who slept through 80% of every class he ever sat in.

                                    bread!

                                 b r e a d !

                              B  r  e  a  d  !

                            B   r   e   a   d   !

                         B     R    E    A     D   !

        dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead.

        dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead.

        dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead.

        dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead.

        dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead.

                                   bread!

                                 b r e a d !

                              B  r  e  a  d  !

                            B   r   e   a   d   !

                         B     R    E    A     D   !

I can’t deny that bread, like anything else, is based on  a supply and demand model. In our current age of entitlement and need for individualization, it’s not surprising that such a wide variety exists.  Choices now range in the dozens but the irony is the vast majority of these are controlled by two companies; George Weston Limited Weston and Canada Bread (who is utlimately owned by Maple Leaf foods). Otherwise, the smaller bakeries are being swallowed up by others.  Take for example, Guenther and Son, a Texas company  who has recently acquired three Canadian bakeries including one which supplies baked goods to McDonald’s in Eastern Canada and the US Midwest.

Canada’s flawed food guide preaches that we as consumers should eat an abundant amount of baked goods but recommends whole grains to provide the necessary fibre and nutrients necessary for optimal health.  Dempster’s for example (yep…owned by Canada Bread) among others have pounced on this by producing the Healthy Way line which includes the  Double My Fibre!, Say No To Fat and Sugar! and Boost my Protein! (just a note..exclamation marks must mean it’s good).  This whole line is nothing but a feel good means of fooling people into believing that they can rely on a quick and packaged means of providing the necessary nutrients necessary for optimal health.  Each designer bread promises exactly what you need.  They are surprisingly similar however.  For example, Say no to Fat and Sugar! comes with the tagline “helps maintain a healthy body weight” although it has the same caloric content as Double my Fibre!.  Boost my Protein! offers the same amount of protein as Double my Fibre! It’s smoke and mirrors..nothing more than disguising a similar product with an ingenious marketing program. Take the following clip for example.

First of all, James Brown must be rolling in his grave. Clearly, the rock ‘n roll icon is being copied  as a second rate entertainer you would hire for a birthday party.  Second, it’s unclear as to what anything in this entire scene has to do with bread other than the one or two second break the guy takes to gnaw into a sandwich in between his slick dance moves. And who the hell is Jason?

Speaking of James Brown, perhaps his death may have been avoided if Dempster’s Healthy Way with ProCardio recipe bread was available.  Nothing speaks cardiovascular health like this ingredient list:

Water, whole grain whole wheat flour including the germ, oat bran, wheat gluten, sugar/glucose-fructose, inulin (chicory root), yeast*, oat fibre, sugar beet fibre, plums, vegetable oil (canola or soybean), vinegar, salt, acetylated tartaric acid esters of mono and diglycerides, calcium propionate, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate, sorbic acid, trisodium citrate 2-hydrate, potassium chloride, magnesium carbonate, natural flavour. *order may change. May contain sesame seeds, soybean and sulphites. [L804].

Other than a slightly lower amount of  sodium (110 mg vs 150-200 per slice) and a good whack of fibre , I see little to justify the bold claim made on their website: “The only bread uniquely designed for those looking to maintain healthy cholesterol  and blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of heart disease”. I’m unaware of any data showing the positive effects of acetylated tartaric acid of mono and diglycerides on cardiovascular health. Some will attempt to link inulin to improvements in metabolic parameters but little data exists.  In fact, any benefit from inulin seems to come from ultra-high doses and usually comes at the expense of diarrhea, bloating and other GI upset.

You are What you Eat.

As mentioned, bread is a staple in the diets of many. It is rooted in symbolism and has meaning  beyond simple sustenance. Therefore, it makes sense to suggest that the type of bread one prefers says a lot about themselves as a person.  Take the following for example.

Home Baker

Owns at least one apron with something like “World’s Greatest Baker” or “Better than Eggspected” written on it. Announces days in advance that they will make bread with the eggspectation that everybody will be in a fasting state come the day. In turn, they consume half the homemade loaf and justifying it by citing the caloric expenditure needed to kneed bread for seven minutes. Prone to criticize any bread that isn’t theirs, especially their rival down the road who uses, gasp!, a bread maker instead of good old-fashioned elbow grease.

White Bread

Afraid to take chances and probably still lives at home.  Likely rejects health professionals and their misguided calls for healthier eating.  Extremely stubborn..showers with soap instead of body wash, drives with a stick shift and probably likes bologna.

Whole Wheat

Tend to think this is the only diet change necessary to sustain optimal help.  Enjoys one upping white bread eaters by ordering brown toast with their greasy breakfast followed by the comment “You eventually get used to it”. Parks as close to front door of restaurant as possible.

Ancient Grains

Always had a secret desire to live off the land but didn’t develop the skills to do so. Owns a Tilly hat. Also wanted to be on the archery team in high school.   Likely watches Survivor, Siberia and Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls. Secretly tapes shows on OLN and about Mayan history.

Naan

If Caucasian, attributes consuming naan bread to a spiritual awakening resulting in the opening of the third eye chakra which further demonstrates their spiritual superiority over their friends and family. Shakes head at those who block their chakras by eating the European stuff.

Roti

Just like the Naan eater but one ups them by claiming a yeast intolerance in addition to the need for chakra cleansing.

Injera

Actively seeks and embraces new food trends to justify donning plastic rimmed glasses and vats of hair gel. Biggest enemy is the naan eater who is outdated by following a food trend that is so 2011. Uses wikipedia frequently to remind themselves why they eat injera and to learn at least one other kind of Ethiopian food.  Opts for sandals over shoes.

Also appealing to running room enthusiasts who attribute their  improved endurance to the consumption of the same carbohydrate as Ethiopian marathon runners.  Specifically, they cite the super grain teff not realizing that ironically most injera in Canada is made with wheat, barley and rye, a stark contrast to their belief that wheat belly is the leading cause of sluggishness in North America (also see gluten free).

Bagels

Thinks that nutritional pundits who equate one bagel with four slices of bread are leaders of a government conspiracy.  Rolls eyes at those who fail to match flavoured bagels with the appropriate cream cheese. Swears the best bagels are either in Montreal or New York even though they’ve never been to either city.

Vegetable Bread

Subscribe to Today’s Parent magazine and pat themselves on the back for fooling their children and/or spouse into eating healthy.  May not eat this bread themselves since they like real vegetables but have empathy for those who don’t. Like crows, attracted to shiny things like orange bread and scantily clad yoga enthusiasts in television commercials.

Healthy Way- Double my Fibre!

Sees a good day as one that includes at least one bowel movement.  Have convinced themselves that  orange flavoured Metamucil tastes good.  Hobbies include watching the Price is Right, reading Prevention magazine and rushing to the grocery store when toilet paper goes on sale.

Healthy Way- Boost my Protein!

Believes that no amount of protein a day is enough and likely washes it down with a whey shake.  May lather with 2 tbsp of mayonnaise because they read somewhere that like protein, liberal consumption of fat at meals makes you feel full….and it’s healthy fat! Could possibly be seen wearing a bandana or a  muscle shirt depicting some animal dressed as a human pumping heavy amounts of iron.

Healthy Way with ProCardio Recipe

Reluctant to take medications since they think all health professionals (except Dr. Oz) are in the pockets of big pharmaceutical companies and swear they can reduce their risk of heart disease by eating bread, listening to Cat Stevens and walking their dog Muffy.  They smell like garlic, drink 14 cups of green tea a day and take melatonin so they can sleep at night.

Thin Slice

Also buy 100 calorie portion controlled chips, chocolate bars and soft drinks.  Reads the less than 600 calorie menu at restaurant but opts for the burger promising to return to lean cuisines tomorrow. Watches “The Biggest Loser” while eating frozen yogurt instead of ice cream and thinks Jillian Michaels is an inhabitant of the planet “Awesome”.

Thick Slice/Texas toast

Laughs at any joke or statement containing the words “it’s not the length, it’s the width that matters” or “Everything is bigger in Texas”.  Thinks breakfasts with two eggs and Hondas are for sissies. Likely has a tattoo paying homage to either  their country or mother.  Drives a domestic car or pickup with a bumper sticker which says “If you can’t stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them”, ” Still have a job? Keep buying Foreign” or “If you can read this, you’re too f@#*ing close”.  Either that or they really like french toast.

Stays Fresh Bread

Takes 3 weeks to eat a loaf of bread.  Otherwise, likely has built an underground shelter with the belief  that Armageddon is imminent and that the only survivors will be themselves, cockroaches and their loaf of Dempster’s Stay Fresh white bread. Not concerned with the fact this bread has less nutritional value than a bag of sugar.

Gluten Free

Insists that gluten free bread is delicious even though it isn’t. Uses lines like “Man, I think the sorghum to millet ratio in this bread is fabulous..well worth the $14.50” and then insist they don’t even miss the real thing.  Repeats the same behavior with brownies, cake, wraps, muffins, cupcakes, bagels, tarts, squares, pasta, cereal and pancake mix. Those around them smile and nod and binge on anything with gluten at their first opportunity, complete with some sort of lactose and/or caffeine containing beverage.

My Take

The once sacred art of making bread has been replaced with the mass production of designer brands with more substance on the package than in the loaf itself. Gone are the days where a table would share a loaf equally among all.  If Di Vinci painted the last supper today I wonder if there would be an array of bread to satisfy each palate.  Maybe before betraying Jesus, Judas Iscariot would prefer Texas toast while Bartholemew would opt for gluten free.  In the end, through devious marketing campaigns, celebrity endorsements and misleading product claims, consumers are left confused when they stroll down the bakery aisle at the local grocery store. This spiritual staple, like other foods, has been bastardized by corporate juggernauts who disguise the bottom line as a commitment to improving the health of consumers everywhere.