there's a shocking headline: free stuff draws crowds

Thousands of Albertans line up for free potatoes

Winnipeggers drive around city looking for free stuff

In Edmonton, organizers sought to highlight locally grown food. In Winnipeg, the City encouraged a "freecycle" fest, where residents left unused items on the curb for others to grab.

Both great ideas, both good causes. But man oh man, is this ever Canadian.

Don't get me wrong. People from the US love free stuff, too. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a New Yorker who has never picked up something from the curb to call their own.

But the first thing I thought of when I read these stories was my co-worker who, after working all day, drove to three different grocery stores to shop for dinner, because "the peppers are a little less" in one place, and the tomatoes are a little cheaper in the other.

Posts like these inevitably draw some defensive comments from readers explaining the joys of frugality. So let me emphasize that I'm not disparaging this tendency. I am merely noting it as a cultural trend that I do not share.

Also, whenever free food is involved, we have to wonder how many people are there not from cheapness, but from need.

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