I have a confession to make – two, actually. No, three!
One being: I always wanted to be a writer. The second is much more complicated.
My second confession is something that Canada’s Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver currently has me labelled a “radical” – for being an environmentally-minded Canadian (one step away from being a terrorist according to the Harper Government). I’ve been operating in various ways behind the scenes of Vancouver’s “green” community for a few years now. I am, what I like to call – an activist in quotation marks.
In reality, everyone is an activist. Giving a word to activists implies that those who aren’t out advocating change aren’t changing the world; giving a word to activists promotes the idea that inactive (socially, politically, environmentally) members of society have no impact on the world. I could be best described as a budding food activist – no more, no less. Everyone though, changes the world through what they choose to support. Activists just try and make a living out of trying to change the world – which is newsworthy, both to those who support direct action for environmental or social justice initiatives, and those who don’t. Me? I don’t know where I fall in the environmental community anymore, really, because of my food-skew. I’m a rogue – I suppose – a sovereign nation of food struggle.
Chuck Palaniuk put it this way – “Someday I’d like to have a life based on doing good stuff instead of just not doing bad stuff.” That pretty much sums it up for me. I’m active, you could say, and I wouldn’t mind making a living off of it. Good Gord (Downie) only knows what I might be capable of if I could be a full-time change-maker.
After years of leveraging environmental and social justice events for NGO’s and NPO’s, my opinion has changed about how activism should be carried out. In 2009, just before the G8/G20, I was quoted by the Canadian Press at an event that I’d organized with saying “We’re trying alternative tactics, in fact one of the subjects at my climate change table [discussion tables I’d organized and catered for] today is: how do the tactics of activism have to change?” The way that the reporter quoted me made me sound like a bit of a slack-jawed yokel, but that’s the way the media is at times. I’ve been plotting and scheming for years to influence positive change – and I’ve devised, what I think, might be a perfect plan!
Being a Chef, I’ve decided to use food as my tool for change. As I said – at best, I’m a food activist.
This week, I will register a Non-Profit Organization called The Tiffin Project. It’s my hope that it will be able to make quantifiable environmental and social gains – using food! It involves you – yes, you! – bringing in a takeout container to pack up your own leftovers at your favourite restaurants, or to use as a takeout container for food to go.
I’ll be selling a container, and a system of relationships based on the tiffin-centric catering model of India – something tailored to thrive in any metropolitan area with a strong food culture. $4 from the sale of each container will go into a subsidy program that will be paying the project’s restaurant partners to buy more local produce for their menus. Every time you bring a Tiffin Project container into its restaurant partners’ establishments, they’ll give you a discount for negating the necessity of a takeout container. Hospitality waste is lessened. New ecologically sound food rituals are nurtured. Investment is made into the re-localization of Vancouver’s food system, using its vivacious restaurant community’s consumption power as leverage. The more non-perishable takeout units The Tiffin Project sells – the more waste it will negate, and the better we can support local producers!
The Tiffin Project will be launching on Canada Day – July, 1. Curry2U, Nuba, Noodlebox, Fable, Edible Canada, Harvest Union, The Waldorf Hotel, Tacofino and others to be mentioned soon, will be the pioneers of the project. Each company will sell units, but they can be otherwise picked up at East Vancouver’s Waldorf Hotel. For now, The Tiffin Project will not be shipping units anywhere for environmental reasons.
The third confession? You guessed it. Sorry – this article is a bit of a plug for my own initiative, but, it will be getting a lot of attention this summer, and, I figured it’d be good to get my own little piece out there. Please feel free to contact me about it – should you have any questions/comments/concerns. Otherwise, tweet me @HunterJMoyes or @TiffinProject.
Visit www.TheTiffinProject.com for details – live July 1, 2012.