It was an ordinary day at the grocery store, with an extraordinary sale on ten-pound-bags of potatoes and onions. Paul Neilson knew this deal was too good to pass up, so he loaded up his community car share vehicle with 10lbs of each.
“It was like hitting the jackpot. I had a car for an hour and these big bags of potatoes and onions were on sale,” Neilson said.
When Neilson arrived back at his home, however, he realized his purchase was a bust.
“The plan was simple. Buy enormous mason jars to house the produce and create a beautiful visual cellar on my unfinished reclaimed barn wood counter tops,” Neilson said.
But that was not to be.
A staunch advocate and practitioner of the rustic industrial boho decor and bourgeois bohème movements, Neilson’s next discovery shook him to the core: giant mason jars were nowhere to be found at his favourite restaurant supply store. Worse yet, he discovered that the type of jar he needed does not even exist.
“I was devastated. The store manager told me the largest mason jars they sold were 2 litres. I can't have a counter full of mason jars holding 2 or 3 potatoes in them,” Neilson said. “The clutter would be unbearable, and the feng shui would be scattered to say the least.”
Neilson undertook rigorous travel from supply store to supply store in search of the elusive mason jars, losing time and accruing four hours of additional car share fees.
I asked Neilson if he would consider storing the tubers by a more conventional means, like inside a closet or cupboard in their original bags, or perhaps even in a plastic storage bin. He responded by saying that the idea was “grotesque.”
“The thought of mason jars only accommodating small quantities is disgusting and quite honestly prejudiced," Neilson said. I asked him to clarify.
"I'm not the only decor savvy white male that relies on rustic industrial boho consistency in my home,” Neilson said, noting that the white male demographic is frequently overlooked.
I reached out to mason jar manufacturers who shed some light on the issue, saying jars over the standard 2 litre size would be impractical for shipping, cleaning and storage and would also be dangerous should one break. Further, they'd warrant unnecessary bodily strain when moving and using them.
Linda Duncan is a mason jar manufacturer and historian who agreed to shed some light on industry standards.
“Centuries of canning have revealed there's no need for such large mason jars. Nobody cans 10 lbs of fruit in a jar to later open it and have it slowly consumed over months or days or even years. There's huge health risks associated with that. We don’t have inadequate sterilization techniques,” Duncan said.
Neilson maintains though that the thought of not having mason jars to accommodate his large produce haul is preposterous.
We caught up with Neilson again before press time. As any good rustic industrial boho with 20 lbs of root vegetables would do, Neilson found another arguably impractical solution, making an elegant single batch potato vodka brewing system with the potatoes, and using the onions to create an onion skin guest book for his dinner parties.
Image by Witia (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Moniquea Marion is a Toronto-based actor, comedian, and writer specializing in solo sketch and character comedy. She’s a graduate of the Second City Conservatory in Toronto, The Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre in NYC, and the People's Improv Theatre in NYC. Marion is a twice nominated contender for Best Female Improviser by NOW Magazine in 2014 & 2015. Marion's responsible for writing, producing, and starring in 8 one woman comedy shows over the past 3 years, one of which spawned, Mumsical, a successful one woman musical comedy about moms which debuted at the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival. Marion recently underwent and successfully accomplished a rigorous web series where she released a new character video for every day of 2016! That's right she wrote, starred, produced, filmed, and edited 365 character videos in 365 days.
Marion's been an advocate for women in comedy by creating safe and supportive comedy spaces such as the all female comedy show, "Laugh Through This", the all female improv drop in, "Fierce", and the "Ladies Jam" a ladies only improv jam. Marion also teaches improv through the Social Capital Theatre in Toronto, various high schools, mental health agencies, and private companies.