A new survey by University of Guelph’s Food Institute and Dalhousie University shows that many Canadians are either eating fewer Fruits and Veggies, or are opting for frozen produce over fresh as prices continue to rise. And that’s ultimately not a good thing for our personal or collective health…
Now the long-term consequences of $8 Cauliflower are coming home to roost. Prices for Fresh Fruit and Veggies shot up because of the sinking Canadian Dollar and bad weather in California, which usually supplies 80 per cent of Canada’s winter produce imports. And they’ve stayed up. The survey notes that, while the overall Consumer Price Index rose just 1.7 per cent year over year to the end of this past April, fresh produce rose by 15 per cent on average for the same period. Apples were up by 23 per cent.
That’s not a worry for the rich and the upper classes, but the poor are clearly at risk for their health if they can’t afford Fresh produce. And don’t forget that many Canadians who were comfortable in what they called the Middle Class have fallen into the category of ‘Working Poor’ in the past 12 months. Older folks are especially vulnerable here. Many say they can’t afford to retire, but are not healthy enough to work or can’t get work because of their age. Clearly, the price of Fresh Fruit and veggies is a major problem.
How is the issue manifesting itself?
According to the survey:
- 50 per cent of the people polled said they no longer buy Cauliflower because it was too expensive.
- 25 per cent said they don’t buy Broccoli for the same reason. although it’s often just half the price of Cauliflower.
- About 20 per cent said they stopped buying Lettuce.
- Lesser numbers reported that they were not buying Apples, Tomatoes or Cucumbers anymore, either.
Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Dean of Dalhousie’s Faculty of Management, calls the trend ‘alarming’: “We were expecting consumers to have walked away from some produce as a result of higher prices, but not as high as that.”
He added that, the lower one’s income, the more vulnerable they are to nutritional deficits and overall erosion of their health – due to high produce prices.
~ Maggie J.