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Graphic by David King.

Dear David: I'm Full of Beans!

Written by
David King
and
and
January 22, 2024
Dear David: I'm Full of Beans!
Graphic by David King.

Dear David, 

As a student, I’m trying to cut down on my grocery bill and it’s proving to be difficult. I can barely afford protein, let alone any produce, so any tips or tricks of the trade would be much appreciated.

Meat Me in the Middle

To my precious meat,

You’re asking me to provide an answer to a question I struggle with myself. Food insecurity is at an all-time high, and is becoming the norm for a majority of Canadians. Only recently has the disparity become visible in the community we live in, seeing working people cross the invisible line into one of many instabilities that has become normal to our condition of living. 

Out of the variety of proposed solutions, it always seems to fall to the individual to address the symptom of a diseased system. After all, it’s definitely our fault that we need to adopt the eating habits of small game to really stick it to the three grocery barons that run this show. Talk about an issue with no frills!

Here are some stop-gap measures I employ in the meantime. I’m sure our aforementioned grocery overlords, with their buds at the five banks and six political dynasties, will come up with a solution. Those guys know everything, and everything will be fine eventually! 

Beans

Everybody loves a good bean! You’ve got black beans, baked beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, lentils—the options are endless! I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like beans, but then again, I have only met 20 people in my entire life, and two of those are my parents. If they don’t like beans, I think I would decline from making such an overambitious statement. 

Personally, I thoroughly enjoy bean-based cuisine. There’s beans (individually) and beans (with salad dressing.) That’s just the beginning! You can cook beans WITH rice OR beans AND rice. If you can swing it, throw some shredded cheese in there! Maybe spice it up with some salt and pepper! The possibilities are endless. 

Historicize the Issue

Fredric Jameson once proclaimed “Always historicize!” As a Marxist, I find this to always be a great way to nostalgia trip and self-flagellate for my sin of living under capital’s stubby thumb. In doing the research for this column—shocking, I know—I went down a rabbit hole of old grocery flyers that went late into the night. 

First of all, some meat used to be 89 cents a pound!!!!!! This means I could get an entire cow in the 1990’s with most of my rent money, and use the rest of it to pay myself to butcher the cow! The wonders of home economics are endless in their mundane beauty. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “David, this is rather self-indulgent,” or even “David, the skyrocketing price of residential property and an inflated consumer price index is contributing to this in conjunction with stagnating wages.” Personally, I just thought it was one guy cranking the Ground Beef dial, because I know where most things come from. I’ve seen a cow before!

After lamenting the extinction of Price Chopper, I found myself going even further back, finishing this quest with some cursory browsing of the first couple of PC Insider reports from the 1980’s. This is where I learned about the First Annual Marshall McLuhan Bulk Candy Festival, and the solution to our problem became apparent. 

The Second Annual Marshall McLuhan Bulk Candy Festival

When Loblaws incorporated its four core retail brands, including that of “no name” and “President’s Choice,”  then-president Dave Nichol introduced the President’s Choice Insider’s Report, a thrice-yearly show-and-tell flyer that included recipes and the unveiling of new product at an introductory discount. 

A year into its inception, the September 1984 edition of the PC Insider Report showcased its latest deal with a collaboration with a Canadian media icon. Enter: the First Annual Marshall McLuhan Bulk Candy Festival

To promote their bulk candy deals, the Insider Report employed McLuhan beyond the grave in order to give Loblawsheads a Diogenic prophecy of how consumers would prefer their candy: exposed to the air and in a barrel of some kind.

Of course, the McLuhan estate did not take this lightly, and his wife threatened to sue Loblaws for unauthorized use of McLuhan’s image. Settled out of court, the First Annual Marshall McLuhan Bulk Candy Festival would draw to its inaugural close with an apology from Loblaws, published not a week later in the Toronto Star. 

I think it’s safe to say we’ve found the core of our issue. We, the people of this country and its feudal supermarket rulers, need to come together and organize the Second Annual Marshall McLuhan Bulk Candy Festival. Canada Day is scorched earth, so why not create a better national holiday with barrels of candy, varying in stages of staleness?

I can see it now: Canadians overcoming their differences to celebrate amongst tubs and tubs of yogurt pretzels. Bulk Barn can get in on it too, since they’re technically a small business. 

Hopefully, you’ll find a way to cut down on grocery bills. In the meantime, just eat some beans and relax! The Second Annual Marshall McLuhan Bulk Candy Festival will eradicate unnecessary packaging costs, bring the economy back to normal, and resurrect Marshall McLuhan so he can work alongside us in the Cultural Studies factory.

Dear David is a monthly advice column that posits itself as the alpha and omega of knowledge; the absolute last bastion, where all questions go to die, but not if David has anything to say about it. Arthur Journalist David King is the expert, the vanguardist pillar of this endeavour, and your question will be answered, but at a cost.

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