Who doesn’t like a good gloat?
A self-satisfying ‘told ya so!’ to the people who doubted you and a pat on the back from supporters when everyone else swore you were wrong. Sometimes smugness feels great!
Well, I’ll tell you about a bunch of people who actually aren’t happy to brag about being right – the folks who have been warning us about the effects climate change will have on the global food supply all this time. Yup, they were right, so let’s see how this affects us.
A cold snap that hit the Southern United States at the beginning of February also affected Northern Mexico where a lot of food is grown. Mexico provides Canada and the U.S with squash, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, asparagus, pepper and round and Roma tomatoes, according to this report.
It’s the worst freeze in the affected areas since 1957. Most of the crops were killed (one report stated that ‘up to 100%’ of the crops were destroyed), which caused an immediate hike in the price of food sold in the U.S.
A North American food distributor, Sysco, released a statement that the freeze reached all the way to Los Mochis and Culiacan, both along the Gulf of California.
That eggplant parmigiana with a side of bean, pepper and tomato salad will have to wait, unless you don’t mind paying up to three times what you’re used to paying for locally unseasonal foods. That amount will be inflated because American food businesses will be charging more to cut a profit. The heart of the matter is that we’ve been very lucky since the global food-trading system shrunk, and now it’s time to begin facing the reality that we may be food megalomaniacs.
Asparagus, for example, quickly decline in nutritional value and quality soon after they’re picked. They can be harvested throughout the warm seasons in North America, but any that you buy from late fall to early spring definitely did not come from a nearby source, which means they’ve been sitting there for a while, becoming a mere shadow of what true asparagus is supposed to be. If you compared a freshly picked asparagus spear to the ones available in the grocer in February, there is a remarkable difference in sweetness, crispness, even color.
While it’s great to have a nice, crunchy spring salad (imported from California) in the middle of a Montreal deep-freeze winter, it makes a lot more economic sense to buy your veggies locally. This also means eating certain foods only when they’re available in your region, in the proper season that they’re grown in. Not only does this help support your local economy, making things better for your neighbors, it also help the developing world by creating less reliance on cash crops that stop them from growing foods that are locally appropriate.
Moreover, in last week’s Gazette, this article said that “World Bank data released on Tuesday (February 15, 2011) showed higher food prices â€” mainly for wheat, maize, sugars and edible oils â€” have pushed 44 million more people in developing countries into extreme poverty since June 2010.”
The chief of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, said that high food prices was one of the factors leading to the Egyptian protests. Food prices are also set to spike up in Central Asia. This is bad news, but please don’t give up. Pass the bowl of organic popcorn and read on for ways to become a food superhero.
One reservation against eating local and organic produce is the initial cost. Why pay $4 for a two-pound bag of carrots when it’s only $2 at the store? Well, the upward trend in the overall price of food, just like gas, isn’t going to be going down. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to the global food crisis because we have it pretty good in North America, for now, but I truthfully hate to say “I told ya so” when it comes to all the benefits of eating food grown close to your home.
Quebec has some of the best agricultural land in the world and organic farms are popping up all across the province. Ferme Carya, Ferme Cooperative Tournesol and Ferme Zephyr are three organic farms that do basket deliveries, farm shares and offer opportunities for visiting their farms to see where our food comes from. They also sell at various farmer’s markets across Montreal.
While the initial price tag on some organic produce seem high, you’re actually paying for a real, non-gmo carrot that wasn’t grown with a pesticide-herbicide cocktail, then shipped halfway across the continent. The cheaper grocery store price is false; you’re not paying for what you get – a lot of pollution and waste that we don’t see also comes with it, and we’ll be paying for that for a long time.
There’s no one solution to the global food crisis, and in the time it took me to research, write and edit this article, hundreds of people have died because of a local food deficiency. Buying your food locally is one priority we should all try to make if we want to say that we tried to make a difference somehow.
It’s an abstract form of activism, but your vote is your dollar. Making your local dollar strong will go a long way in making other parts of the world resilient in their own food sharing practices, especially when the food price hike will be even more devastating because food companies want to make sure they still make a profit off the backs of the hungry.
If that seems too complicated, then we should just let them all eat cake.
As always, Mel – fantastic article.
I’ve just signed up for CSA baskets for the first time (Ferme Mange Tout – they deliver to Co-op Le Maison Vert in NDG)and I’m so excited to start getting my Summer veggies. We were given a few baskets by friends last year, and I almost cried to eat those luscious, flavourful tomatoes.
The CSA’s are such a good deal – I can’t recommend them strongly enough – it can be tough to pay up front, but it equals to around $20-25/week, which is fantastic for the quantity and quality. Also – the freedom from poison and helping local economies – it’s a win all around.
Is anyone else in a CSA program? How is it? Do you use all of your weekly veggies?
Interesting . . . I agree that shopping locally and for organic produce is more ecologically sound but with the pressures on the employment market, who really has any money anymore to pay these higher prices? In the city of Montreal, when I have a full stocked kitchen (the basics, potatoes, rice, flour . . .) I can survive on spending about $25 per week at the grocery store. (It helps to wash the fruits and vegetables very well). I always shop the sales flyers and refuse to pay really high prices for anything. Why don’t inexpensive produce sales exist in places like Egypt?