The Canadian dollar is down. Oil prices are down. And the price of produce is way, way up.
If you live in Canada, you probably know that our dollar has tanked. You might also have noticed that cauliflower costs as much as a pound of grass-fed ground beef. Here’s why.
Why a head of cauliflower costs an arm and a leg
These are sad days for the once-trendy cauliflower. As of January 20, 2016, one head cost as much as $8—triple its usual price. This spike in price, which can be seen in other produce such as lettuce and broccoli, is the result of a few factors.
First, we have the Canadian dollar. The dollar has dropped to about USD $0.70 thanks to falling oil prices, whereas two years ago it was valued at USD $0.93. This makes importing fresh veggies a costly endeavour.
Next, there’s the drought in California. That’s where we (in wintry Canada) get most of our vegetables in the off-season. But the drought means there’s less produce to go around, so prices are higher. Why, you may ask, has our beloved brassica taken the biggest hit? Well, cauliflower is a finicky crop, requiring just the right balance of hot and cold.
What you can do about it
First of all: remain calm. Although roasted cauliflower might be off your menu, you can still buy organic, healthy food at affordable prices.
Reduce your food waste.
Did you know that the average Canadian throws out the equivalent of two apples each day? That adds up to a lot of wasted food (and, yes, money) over time.
Here are some essential waste-reducing hacks.
- Separate individual bananas and store them apart from each other; this can keep them from ripening too quickly.
- Store raw nuts and flours in the fridge to preserve their freshness.
- Line your fridge’s crisper with paper towels; this will absorb excess moisture that can make veggies soggy.
- Keep almond butter, yogurt, tahini, and cottage cheese turned upside down in your fridge; this creates a vacuum seal that preserves freshness.
- If you juice fruits and veggies, reuse the pulp in soups or smoothies.
- Keep citrus fruits in the fridge to extend their lives for up to two weeks.
- Refrain from washing leafy greens until ready to use.
Buy in-season fruits and vegetables.
Focus on what’s locally available. During the Canadian winter, this means thrifty root vegetables and dark leafy greens.
If organic cauliflower clocks in at $11 at one store, don’t despair. Do some comparison shopping at local produce markets and health food stores, which might offer lower prices.
Buy in bulk.
Organic oats, nuts, dried fruit, and lentils can be readily found in most bulk sections, and they’re often cheaper than their packaged counterparts. Bonus: you cut down on waste if you bring your own reusable bulk bags.
Get familiar with the frozen aisle.
In winter, organic frozen produce is often more affordable than fresh. You can use frozen fruits and vegetables in smoothies, of course, but they’re also versatile in cooked dishes. Get started with these recipes.
- Spinach Calzones (frozen spinach)
- Green Monster Soup (frozen peas and broccoli)
- Very Berry Pudding (frozen berries)
- Butternut Almond Pancakes with Strawberry Maple Sauce (frozen butternut squash)
Prioritize certain proteins and produce.
Try your best to buy organic meat and eggs, which are produced humanely and without antibiotics or hormones. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also recommends opting for organic when it comes to the most pesticide-laden produce. Apples top the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, which also includes strawberries, spinach, and sweet bell peppers.
Produce on the EWG’s Clean Fifteen list are less likely to be contaminated with pesticides. Organic is always best, but we won’t tell if you buy one or two non-organic avocados.