By Chris Day and Isabelle Bouchard
**This article was first published Nov. 17, 2021 on NationalNewswatch.com**
If trips to the grocery store are taking more and more out of you, you’re not alone. With prices rising and bills climbing, the stresses of making ends meet are also increasing.
One consumer recently reached out to C3FC to say she now dreads doing her weekly meal planning and shopping lists. She went on to say she is more stressed out than she’s ever been trying to keep her kids fed and happy.
We are going through the same issue ourselves.
If your grandparents were like ours, they likely counted every penny. They wasted very little food, if any. They searched for deals. They bought dented tins and discounted items. Often, they also went without certain items because they simply couldn’t afford them that week.
Our parents had it a little better.
And, for a time, it looked like our generation had it pretty good.
Avocadoes and strawberries in January? Sure!
Fresh meat and fish whenever a craving struck? You bet.
Popping into a store or restaurant on the way home from work for something pre-prepared? No brainer, even if it did cost a bit more.
But now, we’re seeing food prices rise faster than we’ve seen in nearly a generation. And shopping stresses are on the rise, too.
Everyone is paying more. Yet, as is so often the case, it’s the people who have the least who are most hurt.
Food bank usage is unprecedented. According to Food Banks Canada, visits have increased 20 per cent since 2019 to more than 1.3 million this year.
One in eight food bank users have jobs, but nearly half are single parents/single income households. A third of all food bank users are children.
In a country as rich and as bountiful as Canada, those statistics are alarming to say the least.
What’s behind these numbers? And what’s to blame for rising food costs?
Production and shipping costs are up. Supply chains are disrupted. And with the end of pandemic lockdowns, some businesses like restaurants are trying to recoup lost income and cover higher costs for labour and supplies. (They’re also paying more.)
While some people have suggested that farmers are getting richer, that’s simply false. Farmers, ranchers, and growers are all struggling with price increases of their own for energy, feed, fertilizer, and shipping.
Food processors and retailers are also largely passing along their own added costs.
None of this looks set to end anytime soon. In fact, we’re likely to see food prices go even higher.
To central bankers, inflation is an economic concept. To the rest of us, it’s a real and growing problem that’s adding major stresses to an already stressful time.
Sadly, there was almost no discussion of food affordability during the last federal electoral campaign. The sad reality is that there is no silver bullet to make life more affordable. We remain hopeful that our elected officials won’t give up trying to help consumers.
So, what can you do? Here are a few ideas:
- Arm yourself with facts and solid info about why food prices are rising and by how much so you can make informed choices for you and your family (that’s what C3FC is all about, btw!)
- Use coupons
- Buy local and in-season foods so you can avoid some shipping costs and support local jobs
- Reduce your food waste
- Switch up your routines and seek out new recipes that are both healthy and inexpensive
- Recognize you’re doing the best you can and try not to stress out about things you can’t control (like global supply chains)
Canada exports half of the food we grow and produce. Clearly, if we can feed the world, people here shouldn’t be struggling to feed their families.
Yet, more and more people are facing tough choices about foregoing the nice to haves (extracurricular activities, for example) to pay for the need to haves (three square meals a day).
Keep following us here at C3FC. We have lots of ideas that will help you deliver for your family.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll also have news on ways you can get involved so we all get through this stronger, together.
Chris Day and Isabelle Bouchard are founding members of Canada Food Facts for Consumers / Faits alimentaires pour consommateurs canadiens.