Canada’s Food Price Report 2019 was released this morning and it predicts that food prices could increase by up to 3.5% in the coming year [1,2]. They predict that the rise in prices will be led by increases in the cost of vegetables (4-6% increase) while the price of meat and seafood is projected to decline by 2-3%. In short, you can expect to see veggies get more expensive, and meat and seafood to get cheaper over the coming year.
It worries me to think of how our purchasing and eating habits will change in light of this news (i.e. to favor increases in meat and seafood consumption in place of vegetable consumption) and how this will impact our environment and our health. A report released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that we only have 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C “beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people” [3,4]. Did you know that food production is responsible for up to ⅓ of greenhouse gas emissions globally, and that agriculture alone could raise the Earth’s temperature by up to 1.5C if we don’t change our consumption patterns? [5,6]. Ample research exists that recommends one of the best ways to reduce the carbon footprint of our diets is to decrease our overconsumption of animal-based products [7,8,9]. We also know from many research publications that eating patterns which emphasize plant-based foods (like the Mediterranean Diet) have ample health-benefits in comparison to diets heavy in meat [10,11,12].
For those of us who can afford food (i.e. who are not food insecure) saving those extra dollars at the grocery stores may not be worth what it costs us in the long term. Before you decide to start purchasing more meat and seafood in place of plant-based foods, I urge you to consider one easy way to offset these costs: reduce wasted food at home! Canada’s Food Price Report projects that the average family will pay an additional $411/year on food due to these price increases [1,2]. However, according to the National Zero Waste Council, the average Canadian household wastes about $1,100 worth of food per year [5,13]. Actions such as preparing weekly menus and using shopping lists to know how much much of ingredients to purchase at the store, purchasing frozen fruits, and prepping vegetables as soon as you purchase them can help you minimize how much food you waste. More tips can be found at https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sustainability/food-waste/food-waste-home/ or through the links in the references [14,15,16]. By following the simple steps included in the resources, I believe that you could easily recover the extra $411 incurred through rising food prices by minimizing how much food you waste in your home. The benefits to your wallet are nice, and the benefits for our planet are even better when you consider that, according to the FAO, food waste is responsible for about 8% of total human-caused greenhouse gas emissions (roughly the same amount caused by road transportation) [5,17].