Source : https://tradingeconomics.com/canada/food-inflation/forecast
This graph represents the inflation for foods compared to this time last year. 0.9% is the latest reported number for August. This number is an average of different classes of food. This number in itself is not alarming but when we closely examine certain classes of food it reveals that nutritious foods are getting more expensive.
The data set from which this graph is constructed is from the Consumer Price Index, for Food, from Statistics Canada. The index tracks and categorizes 32 different classes of foods, ranging from type of food (food groups) to food service provided businesses.
Nationally, the classes of food that has seen a marked increase from August of last year is fish, fresh fruit, and fresh vegetables. The rate for fish was listed at 5.1%. For fresh fruit, it was at 5.6%. While for fresh vegetables, the rate was at 3.6%. Meat rose 1.1%.
What is even more startling is when we compare these rates to our provincial stats, the difference becomes more alarming. Fish is listed at 5.3%, while fresh fruit is listed at 7.9%, and fresh vegetables are at 7.1%. Bucking the trend, meat is at -0.6%.
Up to now, it has been maintained generally that food has become more affordable but for certain types of food that is not the case. If one wishes to eat healthy, these classes of food are what is consumed in order to maintain or increase health. Since last year, it has been significantly harder to eat healthier but easier to purchase sugary or processed foods.
Price becomes an obstacle to eating healthy, especially to those who are experiencing low income conditions. Consumption of food that is affordable but nutritiously low can have long term health effects. Recent studies examining the relationship between nutrition and mental health suggest that eating health is correlated with greater positive mental health.
When we look to the forecast graph above, from tradingeconomics.com, the dotted blue covered line represents a forecast. Nationally for October, we are looking at almost a 4% increase from last year and considering the provincial trend this number might be higher. In terms of buying food, it is about to get more expensive.
Derek Melting Tallow
Earlier this year in January, Southern Europe experienced a series of extreme weather events. Drought, excessive rain, followed by wind and subzero temperatures resulted in the loss of 80% of produce for Europe. The demand for produce resulted in shortages and eventually produce became unavailable. Prices initially doubled then tripled. These events are chronicled in a summary given to the a committee I presented to at the end of may.
In May of this year, a spring snow storm resulted in loss of almost 25% of the total American Winter Wheat crop which resulted in an 7% increase in wheat futures, meaning an eventual price increase. In June of this year, there was an 8.5% increase in futures after the Canadian outlook was released and estimates were falling as a result of the ongoing drought. Current Alberta Crop estimates are showing that across the board, crop estimates are 13.4% below averages.
World wide grain estimates for this coming harvest are going to be well short of averages. This is reflected in the crop report by the United Nation's Crop Prospect and Food Situation report which show a decrease of world wide crop production by about a half a percent while utilization of this food for consumption is at an all record high.
This breakdown of events is illustrative of how a price increase occurs and this has a cascading effect into other industries. Grains are used in every level of production, from feed for livestock to flour for foods. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN's Food Price Index shows that prices for foods have risen 7% from last year. For the savvy shopper, the best time to buy in bulk is now before the price increases take hold.
In addition to providing awareness about food security, SYF seeks to understand the causes that might result in increase in food prices. In order to be informed about events that might result in food price increases I have developed a number of resources that allows me to keep up to date on happenings here and across the world.
An example of this is the way in which extreme weather has affected food production worldwide. I look at stats from reputable sources and observe the trends. Using this as a context, I have been able to determine that the food security situation is at a crossroads.
The food supply chain is under continuous stress from various causes and understanding why this occurs is how we can work to provide solutions. As mentioned in the program rationale, foremost among the causes of price increases is extreme weather. This is why the features of the greenhouse will make it immune to the most damaging aspects of extreme weather.
Our climate has become destabilized and the balance we have enjoyed has come to an end. Until some sort of balance has been achieved, frequency and intensity of extreme weather events will continue. The trends illustrate this fact and we must now look at climate change adaptation until our climate stabilizes.
Growing food indoors for food security is a climate change adaptation strategy that is beginning to take root in our society. We have the Mississauga Food Bank using Aquaponics to provide vegetables and fish to its clients. In Cloverdale, BC, the use of a living wall of vegetables by a local church group who want to provide fresh produce to the needy is another example. Examples like these and the work that SYF does are hedges, in the case that we do not reverse the present trend with our climate.
Let us work together and secure our future for ourselves and our loved ones. Thank you.
I am happy to comment on the progress that this program has made so far. The program was conceptualized in December as I was brainstorming ideas for the content of my final practicum with Community and Social Development (CSD), at the City of Lethbridge. Building upon the work and suggestion by those at CSD, the program would take shape as the months flew by. This program would not have been successful had it not been without the support of these professionals from CSD or Mount Royal University.
Proof of concept had been achieved, from an academic sense, one month before completion of my practicum and in the remaining month I sought to work on the community engagement portion. I would wait on the completing the general features of the Concept until after finals and other business. I hope to have these test enclosures built by the fall.
Most of you may not know but I had applied for a job with the city, doing emergency planning and this program would fall under this banner, had I gotten the job. Unfortunately, I did not get the job.
As a result, I have decided to take this program and fold it into my own non profit business, which will have three programs: Secure Your Food (food security), disaster management planning for vulnerable individuals, and neighborhood disaster management research. You might have noticed the name at the top left. Until I can determine that this name is not taken, this non profit will be called Solutions. The reason for this name is the purpose of these programs, solutions for the most pressing problems in society.
Future blog posts will be thoughts of mine during the practicum so you can have a glimpse into the process and concerns I had from start to finish with this program. I hope to build upon the media content and illustrate the progress that we will be accomplishing in the months to come.
If you have made it this far, I thank you for your time and wish you well.
Derek Melting Tallow