Monday, June 27, 2011

Rising Food Prices = More Gardening

In today's Globe and Mail...
"By now we've all heard the price of food in Canada is rising. Economists are predicting that Canadians will be paying between 5 and 7 per cent more for groceries on average by the end of year, due to bad crops around the world, oil prices topping $100 (U.S.) a barrel and a sluggish economic recovery. That 5-to-7 per cent rise means an extra $340 (Canadian) a year, for a family spending an average of $400 a month on groceries.... Rising food prices and an interest in knowing where their food is coming from has led some urban dwellers growing vegetables in their backyard."  

Looks like there are more reasons than ever to consider planting a few veggies here and there.

Thanks again to my trusted source, Kathryn, for the link.


WolfSong said...

Food prices have been rising steadily for the past few years, with little sign of coming down. I can remember, less than 5 years ago, buying a 10kg bag of flour for $3.99. Now, I have to make a special trip to Costco to get it for $6.49, because everywhere else in in the $7-12 range. This summer promises to push costs higher, with our farmers having trouble getting crops seeded, and the weather issues in Australia.

Canadian buying power just isn't what it used to be, and we need to trim costs somewhere. Gardening is a great way to go. Not only for the money saving, but for the hands on, knowing where your food comes from.

On the plus side of the equation though...maybe people(in general) will become more interested in what they are putting into their bodies, and turn to more good, wholesome foods. Instead of over-processed pseudo-foods. Well, at least I can would be nice to see the line at the local McD's shrink to nothing, and see people buying, growing and eating real food. A girl can dream right?

Getty Stewart said...

Wolfsong, you point out some interesting thoughts.

Food prices have always fascinated me. As a farm girl, I was interested in the discrepancy between what grain farmers got for their wheat and the price of flour & bread in the store. It never seemed quite right.

Lately, I've been stunned that I can buy a fresh pineapple from Guatemala for only $1.99. How can that be? That just seems wrong.

Our food pricing is messed up.

Percentage wise, our food costs are among the lost in the world and are lower than they have ever been. US stats show in 1930 23% of our income was spent on food, in 1960 17.5% in 1980 13% in 2000 9.9 and now about 9.3%. It looks like that decreasing trend is about to change uin

And time wise, the amount of time us consumers spend on producing/preparing food is almost nil compared to the "olden days".

And, compared to the rest of the world, the percent we spend on food is about as low as you can get. Sorry, more US stats
"U.S. consumers spend approximately nine percent of their income on
food compared with 11 percent in the United Kingdom, 17 percent in
Japan, 27 percent in South Africa and 53 percent in India." Tanzania consumers spend about 71% of their income on food.

Are we in for a reality check? Are things about to change?

I agree that gardening gives us a better sense of the time, effort and sheer luck (ie influence of mother nature) that goes into growing and producing our food.

Will we value our food more? or Will we look for the cheapest food available (eg. pop is cheaper than milk)?
What do you think?

WolfSong said...

I find myself wondering how much of our low percentage spent on food is made up of $.99 fast food hamburgers. Considering the time spent of preparing food is so low, my guess would be a fairly large chunk.

It's kinda like the can the cost be so low? I can't make a burger at home for $.99! But. When I do make a burger at home, I know what's all in it...I know it's only 1 cow, how the cow lived, and how it died, how it was processed...I know what's added to the patty, and I know it's safe for my family to eat. I know this because I've taken the time to find a farmer to buy a cow from, and I buy by the side, or a whole animal, and assist in the cut and wrap process.

I think as long as there are fast food restaurants and the cheap dollar menu, we're not going to see much a of a food revolution, reality check, of wake up call. The masses will still go out and buy off the dollar menu and lament the cost of food in grocery stores.

Purely anecdotal...I see it a lot in my Kid's school. Parents sending kids with pre-packed, processed foods, or dropping off fast food. Same parents complain about the high cost of groceries, and yet, the idea of growing food in their yards is so foreign to them. Our school did a Sustainability Team program, and part of it was discussing growing food...of 25 kids, more than half had no idea how a carrot grew! That is sad.

So, to answer the questions... ;)

"Are we in for a reality check? Are things about to change?"

Price wise, yeah, we're in for a reality check. Good foods aren't going to get any cheaper any time soon. Will it drive more to the $ menus? I hope not. Hopefully, it will drive more towards their yards, to grow their own. And maybe, it will drive us to smaller portions, instead of super-mega-giant sized meals. Not that I want to see people starving, but seriously, who needs 1 meal that is over 2000 calories? Our society has become far too sedentary to be eating the way we do.

"Will we value our food more? or Will we look for the cheapest food available (eg. pop is cheaper than milk)?"

I certainly hope we will begin to value our food more, and I think it is coming. Albeit slowly, but I think there are parts of the population that are coming around to seeing the those fast food burgers are not the way to go. I see hope in things like this article:
and in school yards where there are raised beds, and in amongst the weeds are tomato plants and carrots coming up.

I also see hope in the fact that pop isn't that much cheaper than milk anymore. Certainly the name brands aren't, not at $2.39 a 2 liter bottle (That was Superstore's price last week).

Really, if people are going to look for the cheapest food possible, what's cheaper than a package of seeds, and growing them yourself? Dollarama has seeds 3/$1. Toss them in a pot, or in a patch of dirt, weed, water, repeat, harvest. $.33 for a patch of food? Can't beat that!

Getty Stewart said...

Great thoughts, love a good discussion!