New Brunswickers look for creative solutions to rising food prices

Click to play video: 'How New Brunswickers are fighting food insecurity'
How New Brunswickers are fighting food insecurity
WATCH: The soaring cost of food has everyone looking for ways to stretch their grocery bill and become self-sufficient. Suzanne Lapointe tells us how New Brunswickers are trying to find their own solutions – Apr 2, 2022

Tony DeLuca said in his 29 years as a manager for MacArthur’s nurseries in Moncton, he’s never seen so much demand for products to allow people to grow their own food.

“Seed sales have probably doubled or more than doubled in the past couple of years. Stuff like vegetable transplants have gone up significantly,” he said in an interview on Saturday.

He said he’s seen the trend grow over the past few years in part due to the uncertainties caused by the pandemic.

He said he’s expecting to see even more demand as the season starts next month.

Read more: Maritimers could see soaring gas prices affect their grocery bills

Click to play video: 'How inflation is impacting food prices'
How inflation is impacting food prices

“We’re seeing it in the seeds again this year. We’re seeing very high demand and we’re finding it hard to keep up, to keep everything in stock.”

Sylvain Charlebois, director of Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, isn’t surprised to hear that.

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“Things like gardening are coming back into fashion. The basics of life are coming back into fashion just because people are looking for different solutions.”

Two New Brunswick poverty reduction non-profits, WA Action and Urban/Rural Rides, have created a Facebook group to crowdsource simple, cost-effective recipes.

“What’s interesting at this time is that food prices, no matter what your budget is, it is affecting you,” Lauren Fawcett, director of WA Action, said on Saturday.

Click to play video: 'Cook once, eat twice’: turning leftovers into new meals'
Cook once, eat twice’: turning leftovers into new meals

She said beyond the practical purposes of the Facebook group, she hopes it helps people feel less isolated in their struggle to keep their grocery bills within budget.

“It’s not necessarily going to change market prices that we see but it’s a small way for communities to come together and to support one another in a time that’s really distressing,” Fawcett said.

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Charlebois said rapidly rising costs have changed attitudes about food, and how not to waste it, in the past.

“Before COVID-19, the average household was spending maybe nine or 9.2 per cent of its budget on food. In the 1970s or 1960s, it was more like 15-20 per cent in some cases,” he said.

He said it’s unlikely Canadians will see the pre-pandemic abundance and variety of food anytime soon.

“Really, we’ve gone through several years of indulgence, only to realize that maybe we did take food for granted a little bit.”

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