I’m sure that things differ from area to area, but while I’m here I wanted to note the cultural differences I’ve observed between the southern US and Ontario.
- There is a much bigger push towards recycling. You really have to go out of your way to recycle effectively in Clarksville. Everywhere I’ve been in Ontario thus far, recycling has been a given. Trash containers outside of stores have slots marked for different types of materials. Here in Thunder Bay, the city picks up your recyclables every two weeks along with your garbage. You have to buy special blue trash bags for them, and you sort one bag with metal (like cans) and plastic (milk bags, shopping bags), one bag with paper goods, and you tie cardboard together. Recycling is free and expected. Normal kitchen trash cans here are the size of small bathroom ones in the US.
- Because of #1, it’s very common to buy things in bulk. All of the grocery stores here have huge bulk bin aisles. You can get everything from grains and beans to kool-aid to spices to spaghetti noodles in bulk bins. It is WAY cheaper to buy stuff in bulk than it is to buy them packaged singly. A lb of black beans is something like .30 cents; a can of black beans is like $3.50. Convenience foods (sodas, Doritos, etc) are about the same price as the US, but if it can be made in bulk it’s way cheaper.
- Milk comes in liter-sized bags. They sell special milk pitchers for $1.50 and I guess those last damn near forever. You put the bag in the pitcher standing upright and snip the corner. Then you recycle the bags with your plastics.
- Nut butters are ungodly expensive. If I’m going to continue my habit, I am going to need to invest in a food processor and some Ball jars and make my own. Nuts by the lb (back to the bulk thing) are far cheaper. A jar of peanut butter is about $5, and that’s not even the kind I really like.
- The smallest dollar you can get is a $5, and it’s blue. A $10 is purple and a $20 is green. They have dollars and two dollar coins called loonies and toonies.
- Electricity is called “hydro.” I was so confused when we were looking for apartments because everything said stuff like “$550+hydro.” I had no idea what that is. I still have no idea why it’s called that.
- Bags of cheese that cost $2 in Clarksville cost $8 here. I need to invest in a cheese grater because the blocks are so much cheaper. Again, see #1.
- In most places, you have to pay for shopping bags. And for shopping carts. It reminds me of Aldi’s. Prices are like .05 a bag, and you have to put in a quarter to rent a cart (you get it back when you return the cart). There are not shopping carts all over the parking lot. Many people bring their own cloth bags. And you never have the problem that you normally have at Walmart where cashiers put one item in a bag and you wind up with a gazillion bags. They stuff those bitches full and you’ll walk out with two really heavy ones. For ten cents.
- Everyone has a dog, and they’re always outside walking them. At least it seems that way.
- Yards are not common. If you have a yard, it’s not big. There’s no competition between who has the greenest grass. I’ve yet to see a sprinkler.
- Mac & cheese is called Kraft Dinner. I consider it a victory that Darren now refers to it as “mac & cheese” instead of Kraft Dinner.
- I’ve eaten damn near nothing but moose since I’ve gotten here. Apparently this isn’t exactly common, but Darren’s dad goes hunting. They loaded us down with moose. So far I’ve made cheeseburger mac with ground moose, spaghetti with spinach-stuffed moose meatballs, and moose roast with broccoli, rice, and gravy. It tastes like beef to me and it seems like we’ll have as much moose as we want for eternity without having to pay for it. Score! It’s very lean (the ground moose actually has beef mixed into it for fat content; otherwise it wouldn’t cook right) and you have to cook it for a lot shorter time or it gets dried out. I cooked my roast on the stovetop in beef stock on low and it reminded me of Meemaw’s pot roast from the oven. Mmm.