‘Gone mad’

Many Is­lan­ders notic­ing that the high prices of im­ported pro­duce, such as cau­li­flower, are tak­ing a big bite out of their weekly gro­cery bills

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MAU­REEN COUL­TER

Chris Ste­wart of Fort Au­gus­tus has no­ticed his dol­lar doesn’t go as far as it used to when buy­ing fresh pro­duce at the gro­cery stores in Prince Ed­ward Is­land this year.

“My veg­etable prices have gone up a lot, and that is pretty im­por­tant to me be­cause I’m a veg­e­tar­ian, so when those prices change it im­pacts my food bud­get a lot.”

Ste­wart said be­cause of th­ese high prices, he has made some mi­nor mod­i­fi­ca­tions in his diet by buy­ing more frozen food and in-sea­son items like root veg­eta­bles.

“Cau­li­flower has gone mad, that’s for sure,” laughed Ste­wart.

“I won’t buy that for seven or eight dol­lars, which is too bad be­cause there are a lot of great dishes you can make with that.”

Jim Cormier, di­rec­tor of the At­lantic Canada divi­sion for the Retail Coun­cil of Canada, said the fall­ing Cana­dian dol­lar and poor weather in crop-grow­ing ar­eas are cre­at­ing some very chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances for the retail sec­tor and for con­sumers.

“In the dead of win­ter, peo­ple want their fresh pro­duce, and the only way to get that is to bring (it) in from coun­tries that have a 12-month-a-year grow­ing sea­son.”

Claude Tessier, pres­i­dent of Sobeys Que­bec, told The Cana­dian Press that flood­ing caused by El Nino has caused sup­ply short­ages and higher prices on Mex­i­can and Cal­i­for­nian pro­duce. As a re­sult, Cana­di­ans should ex­pect high prices for their pro­duce for at least sev­eral more weeks.

Ste­wart said th­ese high prices will cer­tainly im­pact the health of Is­lan­ders, as it will be more dif­fi­cult to eat fresh and healthy.

“It’s harder to make that gro­cery bud­get fit and still pick up the fruits and veg­eta­bles you need to be healthy.”

This is also some­thing Mar­lene Bryen­ton of Char­lot­te­town is wor­ried about as many Is­lan­ders are al­ready strug­gling.

Bryen­ton, who said her visit to the gro­cery store cost more than she ex­pected, is notic­ing things like beef, cau­li­flower, broc­coli and pep­pers are tak­ing a spike.

Bryen­ton said high food costs will im­pact not just lower-in­come fam­i­lies but middle-in­come fam­i­lies as well. She feels more peo­ple will be forced into us­ing food banks and soup kitchens.

MAU­REEN COUL­TER/THE GUARDIAN

Mar­lene Bryen­ton of Char­lot­te­town loads her gro­ceries for the week into her car at Sobeys re­cently. Bryen­ton said her visit to the gro­cery store cost more than she ex­pected.

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