You say you want a resolution — oh, right, that's supposed to be "revolution." Well, you know we all want to change the world...
And if there's a grain of truth to that bumper sticker kicking around as an inspirational quote from Gandhi — "Be the change you wish to see" — then just maybe the seeds of change could reside in our New Year's resolutions. Make that our well-intended but usually forgotten resolutions.
To resolve means to make up your mind or decide firmly. It can also mean to solve, explain or clear up something. Both meanings get caught up in New Year's resolutions, and it's this little dance of duality that makes things interesting.
I don't know about you, but out of custom I usually make a resolution or two this time of year, and it's usually about something to do with food and the excessive consumption thereof, or exercise and the lack thereof. Then around March it's business as usual and I'm back in Normalville.
After all these years of broken promises I've concluded the slippage really doesn't matter that much other than the embarrassment of getting busted if I was foolish enough to declare my intentions out loud in a room of soused-up partiers.
I've also realized that intent itself can be okay, too. Even if the action doesn't fully materialize, the effort and conversations that follow pull us down a new path that just might clear up something.
So in the spirit of resolutions and good intentions, fulfilled or not, here are some concepts for the New Year. And if all this resolution-ary, revolutionary stuff is a little too earnest for you, scroll to the end for the best part.
Resolved: Less is more
With the number of obese people on Earth now outweighing the number of people who are hungry, I think we could tip the scales in our own favour and make some movement toward social equity at the same time by trying to cut down on our portion sizes. Say something reasonable, like five per cent?
Of course the idea presupposes that you're not going hungry yourself. If not, it shouldn't be that hard to do, given the following: One, people usually eat what's put in front of them. Two, research shows that the average portion size has increased dramatically over the years.
A 2011 study by the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina called the increase over the past 30 years in the portion sizes of pizzas, hamburgers, cheeseburgers and Mexican fast food "remarkable."
Think of the pounds you'll save — and the dollars!
The 2011 Cost of Eating in BC report by the Dieticians of Canada states that, on average, it costs $868.42 per month to feed a family of four in British Columbia. That's slightly lower than the cost in 2009 ($872 per month) but way more than the 2007 figure ($715). For a family receiving the $1,851 in social assistance they get each month in B.C., 2011 food costs are 47 per cent of their monthly income.
So if you eat five per cent less you could take the savings and donate them to your local food bank. Or you could splurge on...
Resolved: Local food businesses are sweet
Whether it's choosing Purdy's Chocolates over a bag of Lindt's or some of Whistler Cooks' wonderful sauces over a bottle of Kraft, buying local means supporting friends and neighbours, and a lot of other good things.
If you try to cut back on portions and save money on your grocery bill, you can also spring for at least one more meal at one of the — count 'em — 100+ eateries at Whistler. OK, so that includes pubs and lounges that serve food, but either way it makes for a pick-me-up for you and local business, especially in the post-holiday aftermath where everyone needs a lift, thank you.
Resolved: Go farm-fresh, even in winter
Yes, it's January, but you can still go farm-fresh if you check out the Vancouver Winter Farmers Market. On January 5 it reopens after the holiday break, and you'll find all sorts of local products from sustainably caught salmon to those great potatoes from Helmer's Organic Farm in Pemberton and that great baking from Whistler's Purebread. Find it every Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until April 27 at the parking lot on the east side of Nat Bailey Stadium at 30th and Ontario Street.
Resolved: Clean up like you're camping
When the eatin's done, resolve to clean up in a kinder, gentler way. Use water — and cleaners — like you're camping in the great outdoors. After all, you are — sort of. Turn off the tap in between rinsing each dish. Use soaps and cleaners that aren't tested on animals and aren't abrading you and the water system that they ultimately make their way into.
Resolved: Let us eat cake
If all the wheels come off your well-intended New Year's resolutions I say what the hell, shift the whole thing into reverse and make a statement!
Resolve to eat one whole chocolate cake every week. Top it off with a giant scoop of ice cream and phone up your neighbour to come on over and share it with you. Resolve to bake your mom's best cookie recipe once a month and ask your best friends over to gobble them up in one sitting.
Resolve to keep looking for life's little pleasures and share them with as many people as you can as often as you can. A New Year can't get any happier than that.
As for that quote supposedly from Gandhi, well, it's one of those well-intended inaccurate aphorisms we seem to like these days.
What Gandhi really said was, "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do."
So personal change is fine, but you need the social transformation, too. A more nuanced and complex idea, but one in keeping with the season.
Happy New Year!
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who walks a fine line between kale chips and peanut butter chocolate ice cream.