Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"How one Toronto organization is saving good food from the garbage"/ Muslim man donates blood

May 18, 2016 "How one Toronto organization is saving good food from the garbage": I read this article by Corey Mintz in the Globe and Mail today.  It's about not wasting food and money.  I don't like wasting food.  I always eat everybody's leftovers when I go out to eat.  At my restaurant they have sandwiches and desserts from buffets and catering that are left over, and they put it in the staff room.

I always eat those:

I know a couple, let’s call them Lily and Zach. On Friday nights they lounge while their daughter plays: With cookbooks spread out and online recipes bookmarked, Zach and Lily plan out meals for the entire week.

On Saturdays, the couple shops for the meals they’ve planned, plus a few snacks. By the time that Sunday night rolls around, they’ve got a number of meals prepped, and most lunches set. The week’s eating is a source of delight and deliciousness, not stress.

Yes, I hate them too. Lily and Zach are nutty and uptight, giving themselves one more chore that subtracts from free time that could be spent watching Game of Thrones.

But here’s the twist. Zach and Lily don’t buy food they don’t need. Because of their routine, they rarely throw whole, unused produce into their green bin.

The other option, more popular in Canada, is to buy food just to let it rot. Of the $31-billion worth of food that Canadians waste every year, 47 per cent is in the home.

As a guest, I would never look in someone’s medicine cabinet, but I always look in the fridge (consequently, I am rarely invited anywhere). Whoever said that the eyes are the window to the soul never peered into the vegetable crisper of a loved one to see browning romaine, withered grapes and mummified carrots, all of it untouched since purchase.

In a world where the phrase “epic fail” is far overused, this is a tragedy of monumental proportions.
On a professional level, I have seen food waste that makes me want to cry: hundreds of pounds of green beans rotting in the sun at the Ontario Food Terminal because fresher beans came in before these could be sold; asparagus peels tossed in the restaurant kitchen trash because rich diners can’t stomach the skin of a vegetable; a flat of less-than-perfect cantaloupes left in the alley behind a supermarket because there is no space on the retail floor.

In a country where one in eight families lacks reliable access to affordable, nutritious food (a situation experts dub being “food insecure”), wasting this much food, not to mention water, gas and electricity used to grow, ship and store this garbage-to-be is a crime.

That’s not hyperbole: Earlier this year, France actually made food waste a crime, passing a law requiring supermarkets to partner with food donation agencies. Grocers who destroy or throw away edible food risk racking up fines of €75,000 (about $110,000).

Canada lacks similar legislation, which is why we have food rescue operations such as Moisson Montreal, Quest Food Exchange in Vancouver and Second Harvest, which collects and distributes food to more than 200 social agencies in Toronto.

Soliciting food donations takes up a lot of time. In the Second Harvest office, two shaggy dogs named Dyrby and Kramer scamper around while staffers call farmers and companies such as Loblaws and Maple Leaf, soliciting donations of food that has been overbought or overproduced, looking to redirect it before it becomes waste.

“I’ve seen Loblaws crush skids of yogurt,” says director of communications Cori MacPhee, describing a machine like the one in Goldfinger that pressed the car into a small cube, but in this case with gallons of yogurt oozing out the sides. “It’s amazing what grocery stores consider unusable.”

Nutrient-rich fresh foods are in scarce supply compared with shelf stable goods, a problem faced by every food insecurity agency (including, but not limited to, food banks). The food that Second Harvest distributes is 58 per cent fresh ingredients. To keep perishable food waste at 3 per cent, nothing stays in the produce walk-in fridge for more than 48 hours.

“I often say we run a logistics company,” executive director Debra Lawson says. “Because it’s really about transferring very precious cargo, picking it up and delivering it, in a very short span of time.”

Every day at 4:30 a.m. the warehouse manager looks at the meat and produce supply, plus flats of donated crackers, juice, potatoes and canned soup, and divides the day’s dispersals among its trucks.

At 8 a.m. one Monday, I head out on the road with Hektor Habili, a former driver for the Red Cross in Albania. Our truck pulls to the curb in front of Across Boundaries, an outreach centre near Dufferin Street. and Eglinton Street W. that provides mental health and addiction services for racialized communities. Habili kills the engine and rolls open the back of the truck.

Most of the food that Second Harvest redirects – nine million pounds each year – is at the distribution level, from farms, factories or supermarkets. That could mean up to 50,000 pounds of potatoes in one haul (since 2013, Ontario farmers are able to receive a tax deduction for 25 per cent of the value of donated food).

Often, it comes down to one individual, like Habili, making quick decisions to make sure good food gets eaten instead of thrown out. Habili knows his route, knows each organization and what they can or can’t use. He decides how much to dispense at each stop.

Second Harvest clients take what’s available. It’s good, fresh food – although sometimes lacking packaging, or close to its expiration date – but kitchen managers at each organization are tasked with figuring out how to make meals of unpredictable ingredients. “That’s what I’ve got for you this week,” Habili softly declares as he hands a case of yogurt to Across Boundaries employee Andrew Abraham, who also unloads cases of lettuce and hot dog buns and sacks of potatoes.

Restaurants are more of a lost cause than the organizations that Second Harvest works with. At night, the waste bins lined up outside of restaurants might also stir tears.

The majority of restaurant kitchens I’ve been in don’t compost. Even for chefs who want to, it’s hard finding a spot for one more bin in the kitchen, where there’s often less free space than legroom in an Air Canada coach seat. And most owners just can’t do it, since the additional cost (restaurants already pay private companies for waste disposal because city services don’t come daily) would be one more dent in a thin profit margin.

It’s easy to point fingers, but home cooks, too, waste far more food (and money) than is necessary. The consumer habit of weekly shopping makes sense for non-perishable staples. But buying produce once a week almost certainly dooms too much of it to go unused before it wilts.

“We go into a grocery store and everything’s so beautiful and we’re seduced, by the most attractive asparagus and incredible tomatoes,” Lawson says. “So we’re overbuying. And when you bring it home, it sits there.” I get it – not everyone has the time to shop multiple times a week. But what you buy and how you plan to use it can greatly reduce your amount of food waste. (Tip/Caveat: learning to love cabbage could kill two birds with one stone.)

It’s a great start that Loblaws has recently begun selling “Naturally Imperfect” produce, offering aesthetically challenged fruits and vegetables at a discount. It’s far better than perfectly edible food being thrown out, and it raises awareness for consumers, about what food actually looks like (that is, not uniform). But consumers need to step up, too.

Cooking like a chef isn’t about exotic garnishes and fancy plating. It’s about knowing how to make something good out of what you have available and planning the use of your resources based on their degradability.

It’s knowing that spinach turns slimy after a few days, but cabbage is good all week. It’s using quickly decaying basil on Monday and saving robust parsley for Friday. It’s knowing that wilted kale tastes no different when it’s cooked. It’s buying only the food you need or having a designated weeknight when you cook whatever ingredients are left in the fridge. At Lawson’s house, they call it a “this and that” dinner.

So who are the real monsters? Is it yuppies Lily and Zach, for making a family activity of meal planning? Or is it the shopper who buys asparagus and broccoli every week, just to throw them in the compost.

"How to cut down on food waste at home":  I read this article by Eric Vellend in the Globe and Mail today:

Canadian households throw out about $14.6-billion of food annually, according to a 2014 report by consulting firm Value Chain Management International. Through regular inventory, meal planning, strategic shopping, proper storage and creative cooking, it’s possible to put much more of this food on our tables instead of in the green bin.


Before heading to the grocery store, it’s important to take stock of your fridge, freezer and pantry.
Make a standard list of basic staples, leaving blank spaces for less common items. As you take inventory, bring the older food to the front of the fridge or cupboard, and store it in clear bags or containers, if possible. This way, you know what needs to get used first.

When managing your supplies, don’t confuse best-before dates with expiry dates. “You might throw things out at the best-before date, but you are wasting perfectly good food,” says Lindsay Coulter of the David Suzuki Foundation. “A best-before date only reflects when the product is going to have its peak flavour, texture and nutrient value.”

Do this now: The day before you intend to shop is the best time for inventory. Plan an impromptu dinner around food that needs to be used up, then head to the grocery store with a cleaner slate.

Meal planning

This is one of the most effective ways to minimize food waste. When you know what you’re going to cook, you can buy exactly – and only – what you need.

It’s essential to sketch out a weekly menu based on perishability. For the first few days, plan on dishes with fresh fish, chicken and delicate vegetables such as asparagus. Midweek, use beef, pork, root vegetables and kale. At the end of the week, use frozen, canned and dried goods.

Do this now: When you buy cilantro, which is often sold in huge bunches, make a green sauce such as Spanish mojo (cilantro, garlic, cumin, olive oil and sherry vinegar), which will last for a week in the fridge and months in the freezer. Not only do you reduce waste, you’ve got a delicious condiment for baked fish or roasted vegetables.


In an ideal world, we’d shop for food daily to use it at peak freshness. The reality is that most people still need to do a big weekly grocery run.

So pay attention while perusing the aisles. Freshness is vital – mindlessly tossing weekly staples into the cart means ending up with sweaty salad greens, greying tilapia and about-to-sour milk.

If you have time and access, shopping at farmers markets generally helps reduce food waste, as just-picked produce has a longer shelf life than stuff from the supermarket.

Do this now: Stop getting needlessly supersized. Just because a giant container of baby spinach is on sale doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a smart buy. If you end up throwing half of it out, the price effectively doubles.


Knowing the tricks to storing food can extend its life from days to months.

Seafood, which is extremely perishable, should ideally be cooked on the day it’s purchased. If you need a day or two, refrigerate it on a freezer bag full of ice. Whole grain flours, which quickly go rancid at room temperature, will last much longer in the fridge or freezer, as will similarly sensitive nuts. As for poultry and meat, a marinade will help extend its life, as salt, oil and acid act as preservatives.

A small chest freezer is a smart investment, especially if you have kids. Think of it as a treasure trove of leftovers. It also keeps you from overcrowding the other freezer, which makes it difficult to do a proper inventory.

Do this now: Using a strong marker and masking tape, label leftovers with a brief description and the date it was made. Make sure the label can be seen every time you open the fridge, freezer or pantry.

Creative cooking

Despite these measures, there will inevitably be things in your refrigerator or pantry that need rescuing. It’s time to get creative.

Limp herbs, lettuce, celery and other watery vegetables can often be revived in a bowl of ice water. Stale crackers can be resuscitated on a tray in the oven. Soup is the most dependable clear-out-the-fridge dish. Adding broth, tomatoes and canned beans turns the vegetable morgue in your crisper into a vibrant minestrone.

The stockpot is a final refuge for herb stalks, vegetable trimmings, bacon rinds, shrimp shells and chicken carcasses. You’ve got homemade broth and one less thing to buy at the supermarket.

Do this now: Freeze your Parmesan rinds. You can add them, wrapped and tied in cheesecloth, to a simmering pot of soup that calls for the cheese. This old trick will add a deep baseline of flavour to the dish.

Jun. 15, 2016 Muslim man donates blood:

“Yes my name is Mahmoud a proud Muslim American,” ElAwadi shared online. “Yes I donated blood even though I can’t eat or drink anything cause I’m fasting in our holy month Ramadan just like hundreds of other Muslims who donated today here in Orlando. Yes I’m sad, frustrated and mad that a crazy guy claim to be a Muslim did that shameful act.”

His post has been shared more than 125,000 times and has received positive responses from around the world. 

My opinion: That's good.  This often happens.  A mass shooting and tragedy occurs, but then we all pull through together.

Jun. 16, 2016 Prince William on LGBT magazine:

Prince William is making history as the first British royal to cover a LGBT magazine.
The father-of-two is featured on the cover of Attitude magazine and takes a hard stance against bullying. "No one should be bullied for their sexuality or any other reason," he said in a statement to the publication.

Prince William also had some advice for those victims of bullying. "What I would say to any young person reading this who's being bullied for their sexuality: don't put up with it -- speak to a trusted adult, a friend, a teacher, Childline, Diana Award or some other service and get the help you need," he insisted. "You should be proud of the person you are and you have nothing to be ashamed of."

My week:

Feb. 19, 2016 Degrassi season 10: James Edward Campbell, Munro Chambers & Aislinn Paul #2. I was looking up the Canadian TV show Between and then decided to look this Canadian TV show too.  A few actors of Degrassi are on Between.

I'm a fan of James Edward Campbell who plays the bad guy Fitz on the show.

Campbell says he got into acting because he's a fan on Jim Carrey.

I wrote about him before:

Oct. 27, 2015 Look alikes: I was watching The Vampire Diaries, and I thought Lily Salvatore (Annie Wersching) kind of seemed like Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross) on Desperate Housewives.  The way they talk is very similar.

Dec. 15, 2015 Taylor Swift meets her look alike: I thought this was interesting.

Dec. 24, 2015 Kim Kardashian's double: This was on Yahoo and I have to say they look a lot like each other:

Jun. 6, 2016 Jordan Axon: This was a few months ago.  I was watching The Social and they interviewed this guy.  I tried to look him up on the internet and can't find him or at the least the one I was looking for.

The question was: "Who do you want to play you in a movie?"

A woman in the audience: Matt Damon!
The audience laughs.

My opinion: I was going to say that.

Axon: I was going to say Sean Connery.

Flooring company: I did a job interview there after I went to work.  It was an alright company.  They were hiring for 1 person to work 1 day a week.  It was far away, where I had to take 2 buses.  However, I would work there.


Conor Maynard: He is a British male pop singer and here he is covering "Desiinger" by Panda.  It's a cool and sexy song.

Her is the original:

Choreography: Here is some hip hop choreography to it. 

Desiigner- PANDA - Taylor Hatala & Kyndall Harris @AntoineTroupe Choreography | Shot by @TimMilgram

I wrote about Taylor before.  She's the white girl.

Jun. 9, 2016 Justin Bieber fist fight: He got into a fist fight and I had to watch the video


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