Today Statistics Canada released its most recent report on the consumers’ price index (CPI). Though the CPI only rose 1.2% since March 2008, due largely to a decrease in transportation costs over that same time period, the increase in food costs is staggering. Considering what we went through during our Lent Project, I should not be surprised.
Statscan reports that:
“Food price increases were widespread in March 2009 compared with March 2008, with large price increases observed for fresh vegetables (+26.5%), fresh fruit (+19.3%), non-alcoholic beverages (+10.2%) and cereal products (+11.0%).
A 12-month price increase of 54.9% for potatoes pushed up vegetable prices. This occurred largely as a result of poor harvests in Canada that led to a reduction in supply.
Price increases were also observed for meat (+7.6%) and bakery products (+7.4%). Meat prices rose mainly because of higher beef and chicken prices.
See the full report: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/subjects-sujets/cpi-ipc/cpi-ipc-eng.htm
For us Canucks, this increase in food costs was the largest reported since November 1986. Hmmm…. what rings a bell about that era? Wasn’t there was a recession going on? I was still keeping the taps flowing and the bartender gainfully employed at Ruloff’s in Collegetown then so I don’t really remember feeling the pain (ok, maybe the next morning). Fast forward to 2009: job loss is on the rise making disposable income on the decline, those who have jobs certainly have seen their wages frozen or even scaled back (unless of course you’re paid the minimum wage in which case your hourly wage increased a whopping 8.6% in March to $9.50/hour) and yet food costs rose and overall 7.9%! In the United States, interestingly, the trend is the opposite with the US Bureau of Labor Statistic reporting an ongoing decline in the food index. I don’t get it? Haven’t I been reading in all the newspapers and magazines that our Americans friends have been feeling the pinch way more than we have? I obviously could have paid more attention in Econ101.
What’s this mean for the average [Canadian] family? Well, we could eat less or make more. I vote to make more. No, I do not mean make more money (though that would obviously solve the problem but appears unlikely this labour market). I mean make more food – together.
I referenced this briefly in a previous blog during our Lenten Project about the Working Poor Diet (see “I’m crazy but not alone”). I am convinced I need to pool some resources: financial and human. Stay tuned as I explore the social, economical and nutritional benefits of communal cooking (and I don’t just mean my whine club).