Climate change is invited to your salads

Normally, summer is synonymous with colorful salads made with fruits and vegetables at low prices. But obviously, the 2022 season is not normal.

Posted at 6:30 am

The cultivated blueberry is the perfect example. For perhaps two decades, three-for-$5 cans were readily found in supermarkets as soon as New Jersey berries were ripe. Have you seen any this year?

The price of a 340-gram pint was $7 early last week in the Quebec metropolitan area, before dropping to $5. I’ve toured supermarkets all over Canada, virtually of course, and it’s the same everywhere.

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It feels like the middle of winter. That is the general trend. Of course, we may find ourselves with a windfall on occasion. Walmart, for example, recently advertised the tray for $2.97. But it is still considerably more expensive than other summers.

The current price of this succulent berry is amazing.

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IMAGE OF A BROCHURE FROM JULY 2019

Blueberry pints have long been on sale for three for $5 during the summer season.

“It is the most expensive fruit. I’ve never seen this in 40 years for the price to go this high, for this long,” Joe Lavorato, president of Gaétan Bono Fruits et Légumes, a major Montreal importer, told me. This is all entirely the fault of Mother Nature, who hasn’t been kind to the American East Coast, he explains, as fields have been “destroyed by hail and abominable heat.”

This weather cocktail has greatly reduced the amount of fruit available on the market.

I normally get 300 pallets of blueberries a week. Last week, we couldn’t even get 30 pallets. It is 10 times less.

Joe Lavorato, president of Gaétan Bono Fruits and Vegetables

“Supermarkets collect all the volumes we have,” reports Joe Lavorato, so small greengrocers have to pass the turn. Grocery stores have also decided to stop selling blueberries, as the casseau is too expensive.

The blueberry is just one example among many. Corn and bean fields have also suffered in this region. I can’t wait for Quebec beans to hit the shelves, because for months, this vegetable has cost as much as cherries.

Speaking of cherries, California and Washington state experienced frosts and downpours. Result: Scarlet pearls are rare, reports Joe Lavorato. “Normally, California will harvest 9 to 10 million boxes of cherries. This year, we will be at 4 million. It’s less than half. Put pressure on prices. »

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PHOTO COURTESY BY GAÉTAN BONO FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

Joe Lavorato, president of Gaétan Bono Fruits and Vegetables

Importers of fresh fruits and vegetables have always been forced to deal with the occasional vagaries of the weather, currency fluctuations, and roller-coaster transportation costs. But now climate change is clouding the future. “In my book, it is the biggest fear. How can we ensure that the planet eats properly at reasonable prices? It’s a challenge world,” says Joe Lavorato thoughtfully.

Oxfam is also concerned about the consequences of climate change on world hunger. The drought that has been raging for years in some African countries is forcing farmers, fishermen and herders to seek other means of subsistence, the organization gives as an example. And reduced food production capacity threatens populations with famine1.

These days, the heat wave is hitting the whole world. An 1873 heat record has just been broken in Shanghai, forests are burning in Europe, Mexican farmers have ceased operations to save what little water remains⁠2. In Italy, the Po river, which supplies almost a third of the country’s agricultural production, has dried up⁠3. Cow’s milk production has dropped by 10% due to the heat, threatening the Parmesan cheese industry, CNN reports.4.

All this news should seriously concern us, although it does not seem to be the case.5. It’s not like we can go without food!

When we hear about food inflation, the impact of climate change is less easy to quantify than the increase in the price of fertilizers, transport or wages. More blurry. However, it is a key element of the equation whose weight is likely to increase.

Global warming affects even the discounts you see (or no longer see) on flyers. Joe Lavorato says he’s finding it increasingly difficult “to give prices to retailers who want them three weeks in advance for their brochures.” The big chains must, therefore, “take care of what they advertise.”

Eating 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day is becoming unaffordable for a growing number of Quebecers. Even in the height of summer. It’s a shame for the quality of the food and the budgets.

Planting a vegetable garden has never been so profitable, as long as nature cooperates.

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