I’m fed up with all the negative news and stories about high food prices. Enough! The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) leadership said government workers earning $40,000 to $65,000 a year have to go to a food bank in Ottawa. They can’t afford groceries. It’s ludicrous.
A CTV reporter was outside an Ottawa grocery store interviewing shoppers about high food prices. People all said prices were high and no one said anything realistic.
I would have said the minimum wage at my first job in construction back in 1966 was $1.10 an hour. Now the minimum wage is $15.50 an hour. How can people expect food prices to stay low when store employees stocking shelves make that wage and it’s going up by over a dollar an hour in October?
I would have told the reporter that there are great deals in the stores. Shop smart. Food is still economical. A 10-pound bag of potatoes is a cheap source of excellent food for a family. Potatoes contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They’re rich in vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. Potatoes were a life-saving food source in early times because the vitamin C prevented scurvy. Another major nutrient in potatoes is potassium. Sometimes potatoes are on sale at $1.99 for 10 pounds. As I write this they are selling for $3.99 at No-Frills. That’s 40-cents a pound.
I’d talk about cabbage being a great buy at 69 cents to 79 cents a pound all winter. Cabbage is packed with nutrients and can be considered a superfood.
I would mention carrots. Now there’s a great vegetable. I eat a raw one every evening. Carrots are excellent sources of nutrients like potassium, antioxidants, and vitamin A, among many others. Stores had three pounds of carrots on for 99-cents (and lower) this winter. In autumn you can buy 10-pounds of carrots for $3.99. Three pounds of carrots were only $1.47 for most of the past winter.
And staying with vegetables, how about red beets in 10-pound bags? They are cheap and a superfood. Beets are rich in folate (vitamin B9). Make pickled beets for the family. 10-pounds for $3.99 is a real bargain.
Now let’s head over to the meat section. Chicken is a good buy. Chicken drumsticks are on at $1.88 per lb. as I write this. While beef roasts can be expensive, ground beef is often a really good buy. $3.99 a pound for lean this week in Renfrew. Liver is an excellent buy and not too expensive. Pork chops go on sale often.
Don’t go whining about the price of milk. A 4-litre bag of milk for $5.68 is a loss leader for the store. Compare milk to bottled water and pop drinks. Milk is a really good buy.
You like a bowl of soup in the winter and you find the canned soup very expensive? So make your own. You can make much more nutritious soup than the store stuff. Make your own broth and you can make a pot of delicious and healthy soup.
You find bread has gone up a lot in price in the last year? Bake your own. Flour is still relatively cheap and a good buy. You can’t make bread? Make pancakes once a week. Pancakes are easy to make and good too.
You don’t want to always eat potatoes and vegetables? Okay, rice is another good buy in the stores and often it’s a loss leader for the stores. Buy it in a large quantity.
I was trying to see if I could recognize any food items a woman in front of me was putting on the checkout counter of a grocery store recently. It was all packaged stuff. I did recognize a container of almond milk. Her grocery bill was likely quite high.
Back to the CTV reporter interviewing shoppers at an Ottawa grocery store. One man was interviewed who had just put his shopping bags in the trunk of his car. He said the grocery bill came to $80 and he didn’t have much to show for it. The camera showed what he had in his trunk and front and center was a case of 24 cans of pop. There were two shopping bags showing the tops of boxes of cereal. I didn’t see any basic foods such as the ones I mentioned.
Cans of pop and boxes of cereal are certainly pricey items and will hike up a grocery bill. There are so many great ways to reduce your grocery bill. Shop on the perimeter of the grocery store where the good basic foods are. Not in the centre aisles for the processed stuff. And don’t include cases of sugary pop.
Maynard van der Galien knows a thing or two about food. He owned and ran a restaurant in Renfrew 20 years ago and was the chef making soup the old-fashioned way: Real-good-hearty soup. He’s been a long-time columnist with Farmers Forum.