[NTLK] OT: Poutine Burger

Andrei Chichak newton at chichak.ca
Wed Apr 30 15:41:43 EDT 2014

On 2014-April-30, at 4:41 AM, L.W. Brown <lwb at mac.com> wrote:

> “Buy” the way Andre: how many gallons of milk and pounds of butter does a family actually need?

The question is actually more complex than you may think. Here’s the story for the uninitiated, Bellingham, Washington (population 82K) is about 25 miles (40km) from the Canada/US border. Canadians from the Vancouver, BC area (population 2.5M) hop in their cars and make the trek to Bellingham to partake of the cheaper prices and different selection. Washington doesn’t have sales tax whereas BC definitely does, therefore staples such as gasoline, cheese, and milk are cheaper and, if you buy enough, can easily pay for the trip.

A while back there was an item in the international news about “filthy” Canadians “swarming” and filling up the parking lot in the Bellingham Costco, buying up pallets of milk, and leaving their garbage in the parking lot. They were called “milk piranhas” and a call was put out on Facebook for an Americans only day at Costco. There were complaints that Canadians would buy clothes, change in the parking lot (probably to avoid paying duties), and discard their old clothes in the overflowing garbage bins, or just beside their vehicles. 

The butter hit the fan. The Canadians apologized (not really), and the uninvolved Americans pointed out that without the swarms of Canadians making their treks to Bellingham there would be no Costco and the Bellis Fair mall would be unsustainable. Calls were put out to recognize the friends from the Great White North and their economic bolstering of an otherwise depressed region.

Why would anybody need that much milk? A complex question. In Washington, milk is comparatively cheap because the farmers are allowed to use growth hormones. These hormones are not allowed in Canada, and due to lower production quantities and taxes, the prices in Canada are higher. The no-hormone milk is available in Washington as well, but it is as expensive as regular (no-hormone) milk in Canada.

Who needs this much milk? People who make their own yoghurt. 

Who makes that much yoghurt? The immigrants in the Vancouver area that come from the Indian subcontinent. Yoghurt is a basic ingredient in making your daily meals, so buying 16 gallons (64 litres) of milk at a time is a reasonable thing to do.

Butter? Have you ever tried Butter Chicken? mmmm. Or you could clarify it into Ghee and use it for all of your cooking rather than vegetable oil. 

It’s all a little more time consuming, but cheaper to make the base materials. Since cooking is time consuming and (maybe) the women don’t have commercial jobs, they can get the base materials, in the quantities that they need, that they are accustomed to, without having to pay extra for the proper stuff from half way around the world.

As for filthy, this could be xenophobic racism, or it could be a reaction to possible clashing cultural practices of having untouchables clean up after the higher castes. 

Cleaning up after others is hard and hiding behind economic benefit is a lame excuse. Canadians should not dump their discarded clothes in parking lots, or avoid paying appropriate taxes and tariffs. Canada is not a “melting pot”, we embrace the cultural differences that come with immigrants rather than squelch them, this can cause friction with people who feel threatened or have been discriminated against in their history. Some cultural habits conflict with expectations in their new country, some die out, some persist.

When going to other countries, everyone has to be conscious of different cultural perceptions and habits, and adapt. In Canada, please don’t squat on the toilets or spit in the streets. In China, don’t flash your money around. Be yourself, but know that some of your habits may need to be toned down to form that thin veneer of civilization.


> On Apr 29, 2014, at 9:19 PM, Andrei Chichak <newton at chichak.ca> wrote:
>> On 2014-April-29, at 10:13 PM, "L.W. Brown" <lwb at mac.com> wrote:
>>> Down here, we’re always having to clean up after you guys…
>>> ;-]
>> Sorry. 
>> (the deals at Costco Bellingham are so awesome that we must leave our discarded clothing in the parking lot, ewwwwwwwwww)

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