(Photo: Contributed)
(Photo: Contributed)

What next?

by - Story: 60890

She says:

The headlines this week included all kinds of things that I only thought I would see in movies: nuclear leaks, tsunami, uprising, food prices skyrocketing…yes, it’s all true, and some of it is even happening here. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be in Japan, and I so admire their sense of community, looking out for each other and managing to be gracious to media as their world seems to disappear around them. But I also didn’t think I would see in my lifetime the headlines that talked of rising food prices causing riots and uprisings, and affecting the part of the world where I live. It is true the world is getting smaller; we are all affected by its changes.

Perhaps this is all very Darwinian; it’s Nature’s way of re-establishing balance, having poor weather for crops and causing supplies to shrink against the rising demand of growing populations. Perhaps it is a grim reminder of the consequences of putting all our eggs in one basket… did you know that in the USA, 50% of the corn crop is used for ethanol production and 40% is used for animal feed? So that means it doesn’t directly get used to feed people. That’s a lot of farm land that doesn’t count in the tally. The amount of land it takes to create meat for food is much higher than what it takes for vegetables (you grow the vegetables and you have to put the animals somewhere too, so it’s a double whammy).  As we share our habits and more countries that didn’t used to eat meat increase their consumption, we tip the scales on having land available for growing food. If all the food that is available is cheap, then people keep buying it, but how do farmers manage to make a living growing the food if they can’t get paid enough to get groceries for their families? There is a vicious circle that becomes more and more prevalent the more you pursue this line of thinking.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe we should all head for the woods and aim to create communes. I just think it’s important to remember there are consequences for our actions. As much as things change because of world events, they can also change when we take action as individuals. Every little bit really does make a difference. After all, if Wendy’s Restaurants can change to put tomatoes on burgers only on request, can’t we all grow one tomato plant on our balcony or in an office window? If mass production of certain crops means they might get wiped out and skyrocket in price, doesn’t that mean we could look at alternative items to buy? Here in the Okanagan if lettuce or green peppers get expensive, we could easily add a pot on our deck and supply our house through the summer if we wanted. In the winter, we could switch to kale or frozen beans. As the young Pathfinders I work with are fond of uttering, “I’m just sayin…”

My father used to say, “Don’t focus on the problem, focus on the solution.” Prices will rise. The ozone hole will get bigger. More uprisings will occur. (It makes me think of that song from years ago, “Don’t Forget the Sunscreen”.) The important thing is, we can still do something positive. We can still enjoy the moment we are in. Find your way to take positive action. For those of you into social media - #shameless plug (it’s my cause) Join Slow Food Okanagan to support local producers and growers. Plant a garden. Treat food as the valuable commodity that it is.

He says:

“General food prices in America rose 3.9 percent last month, the highest since November 1974”. 

- (quoted from an AP article in the Washington Post, March 16, 2011)

The world’s prices for coffee have shot way up, so expect your Grande Latte to shoot up too. Blame winter freezes damaging crops in Florida, Texas and other Southern states. Wheat, corn and soybeans have also shot up, raising the price for animal feed making the cost of eggs, ground beef and milk higher. If a family can’t use ground meat for a cheaper meal, what is left?

Gas prices are also at a crazy high, making driving food around even more expensive. Many companies are raising their minimum order charges or increasing their delivery fuel charge which will be passed on to the clients…. YOU! The whole idea of the planet being smaller today is great as long as everything is going well, but as soon as something goes wrong in Florida, Lybia or Japan everyone feels it instantly. I thought the recession was over.

We are very fortunate to be able to have access to products like oranges from Florida, pineapples from Hawaii, kiwis from Australia and New Zealand or even Chilean green peppers and grapes. But let’s not forget our local producers who will be affected by all these food price increases. If you farm vegetables in the Okanagan, it is just about impossible to compete with prices for your carrots and peas, but the one thing our local farmers can offer is quality. Their vegetables don’t travel too far, they are usually picked when ripe and sold in top condition.

“Last month, the World Bank came out with an estimate that higher prices for corn, wheat and oil have pushed 44 million people into extreme poverty since last June.”

With that said, I would also like to make you all feel a bit guilty for the next time you throw away or waist good food. Follow this very interesting link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2009/jul/19/food-waste?picture=350496041#/?picture=350496033&index=4

Let us remember that we are very lucky to be living in Canada because we have options… unlike other countries.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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