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Preparing for hard times

Kevin Yarr

by Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca

For food lovers in Canada there are difficult times coming.

No, it has nothing to do with the economy. It's just winter, and for Canadians who love fresh, local food, these months can be hard to face.

Every week for the last few months I have walked into the Charlottetown Farmers Market to be greeted by some fabulous new treat: swiss chard, strawberries, new potatoes, baby zucchini, tomatoes, blueberries, corn, black currants, peppers, apples. While it is possible to get most of these things year-round, nothing can match the taste of getting it in season within a couple of days of it being picked.

The last couple of weeks the experience at the market has been changing. The selection is only growing thinner, increasingly composed of meat and root vegetables.

There are some new things coming into season, but not from around here. Oranges are getting fit to eat again, though I don't get the same pious pleasure from buying them.

Some foods that are equally good all-year round I tend to save up for winter: Iranian dates, smoked salmon, chocolate.

OK, so I eat chocolate all year long.

What foods do you enjoy in the winter?

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Comments

Jeff Pitt

Calgary

Waaaaa...

If you think the above scenerio represents "hard times", you are completely detached from reality.

Posted November 20, 2008 12:58 PM

Eileen Hutcheson

Ontario

I freeze and can fruits and vegetables in season. These are very pleasing in the cold winter months, especially the fruits.
The imported fruits and vegetables are a waste of money.

Posted November 20, 2008 03:02 PM

brandoCalgary

I definately agree with jeff pitt. I ate KD and instant noodles for 3 weeks straight last winter and i still dont consider that hard times!

Posted November 20, 2008 06:45 PM

Deb

I so know what your talking about!! I live on an island...by the time the produce gets beat up all the way here, we get to spend top dollar trying to pick out the worthy ones!!

Posted November 20, 2008 08:07 PM

scott

Cute article, but the headline, under current conditions is not.

Posted November 20, 2008 09:19 PM

Robert Dye

As to the first comment... do you think the article may have been tougue in cheek? Perhaps an attempt to take folks minds off the situation the world is in now. So Jeff lighten up...lol
As for missing fresh foods that is kind of a sad thing along with the coming of winter.

Posted November 20, 2008 10:22 PM

Kevin B.

ont

With knowledge ..becomes wisdom..without either ...you are alone . Sorry, Jeff but your comment shows disregard to info. that could be more useful for others beside YOURSELF

Thank u
Kevin Yarr w/ the research and all the best.

Kevin B.

Posted November 20, 2008 11:18 PM

Caitlin

Winnipeg

This is an article in the Food Bytes, so I don't know what topic the complainers were looking for!
As our local fresh foods go out of season for the most part, it is time to really enjoy the meat products, in roasts and stews, and to experiment with more root vegetables than you ever have, or than you do during the summer. I love the root veggies, parsnip, turnip, rutabaga, carrots, yams, onions, as well as long-storage cabbages, celery also lasts a long time and goes great in stews and soups. Beets! Gosh, I love to make borscht when the weather gets cold, it can simmer a long time, and if you don't put any meat products in it, you can leave it unrefrigerated overnight, and eat it for breakfast and lunch and dinner the next day, as the flavour blossoms! As a note, any kind of beans are a good addition to borscht. Dry beans/pulses are a great winter food, too. You can have some awesome soups, hummous, lots of great, hearty food that is totally available in the winter, and not by having it flown instantaeously across the continents, either.
Have a wonderful, frugal, fragrant, winter.

Posted November 21, 2008 06:55 AM

Lisa

Chilliwack

Jeff is right. Winter in the land of 24-hour grocery stores is not hard times. Hard times is the depression. Hard times is living in the third world right now where people really don't have enough to eat. Hard times is the Congo and Darfur. The headline is not amusing.

You think living on an island makes getting produce hard? Think about Newfoundland in the 30s and 40s. My dad has said that getting oranges at Christmas was a real treat.

I clicked on this story because I thought there would be some advice about making food dollars stretch further and make cheap foods taste better. Silly me.

Lisa

Posted November 21, 2008 07:55 AM

Melissa

Que

I agree with Lisa. I thought this would be a serious article about common sense and creative ways to make food dollars stretch, not a whining "oh, we won't have any fresh food to eat" statement.

Dealing with the cycles of the seasons is something we've had to do since settling Canada. It's our modern cheap-energy society that can fly/ship apples from New Zealand in winter and kiwis and grapes from God knows where (Calif/NZ/Chile) that has become accustomed to an 'any food at any time' way of thinking.

And heaven forefend that anyone make the effort to grow, store, slaughter and/or preserve their own harvest. If the supermarkets were to close for one week people wouldn't know what to do!

Posted November 21, 2008 10:27 AM

Paulette

Saskatchewan

The author pointed out at the start he was not referring to the economic problem, but the problem of finding fresh fruits and vegetables in winter in Canada, the true north strong and free but too cold to grow fruit in winter.

After reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I too cannot buy imported fruits and vegetables with a clear conscience. However I can plan ahead and grow and freeze my own in summer. Or preserve in jars if I like the result, which I don't for starwberries.

I choose to live in Canada, not the very warm area of my birth. I choose on purpose, but not for the types of food I would get to eat. I chose for the over-all life style, which includes the freedom, the right to think my own thoughts, the freedom to earn money and keep enough of it to get to eat all year round.

As a citizen of the world at large I also choose to eat locally grown produce to cut down on the polution caused by shipping fresh food to far away places. Winter is a good time to learn to appreciate summer, and winter does not last forever, even in Canada.

Posted November 21, 2008 10:56 AM

rick

bc

I agree with most of the posts here that with the current conditions around the world and close to home.I think the writer has not seen hard times he should spend a couple of weeks with the homeless!Maybe try finding scraps of food from the dumpster.Thats hard times!

Posted November 21, 2008 11:49 AM

Caitlin

Winnipeg

If you want common sense advice on how to stretch your food dollars, here's some: shop on your supermarket's customer appreciation day (Extra Foods is the first Mon and Tues of the month), you can get up to 15% off various levels of purchase. Also, buy in season. Don't buy heavily processed food, take the time to cook it yourself. If you don't know how to cook, look for a community cooking program, you can learn how, share community with others, and possibly have free dinner one night a week! Throw away any brand loyalty that you have been conditioned to have! For many people, the brand that they buy is very much part of their purchase, and this is outright stupid.
One good way to make the most of an inexpensive cut of meat is to use a slow cooker. I can get a $30 roast for 50% off, plus another 10-15% off for customer appreciation day, slow cook it the next day (put it in before work with some potatoes & carrots and onions, herbs), come home, and have a house with a full hearty dinner waiting for me, smelling great, that the kids will eat, and leftovers for stew, roast beef sandwiches, whatever! How's that for advice?

Bread: go to your local bakery outlet store and get a crapload of bread for cheap. At McGavin's breadboxes, you can get 10 loaves of whatever didn't sell for 89 cents per loaf, but it's luck of the draw what will be there, it could be regular sandwich bread, tortillas, pitas, raisin bread, prebiotic, whatever. At City Bread, go with a garbage bag, I think you get a bag for 5 or 10 dollars at the dufferin area bread plant.
If you know hunters, see if you can get them to give you some meat, same for fishers, invite them to dinner!
I have been pretty poor as a young mum, and for some reason one of the most empowering things I did was learn how to make my own fresh mayonnaise! Get the big jug of no name canola oil, and you won't have to choose between getting mayo and getting eggs- if you have an egg, you can make the mayo.
Buy the frozen chicken breasts on sale (big box), you can then easily do many quick chicken recipes (pasta, stir fry, stew, baked with herbs, cacciatori).
Good luck all, learn how to make mayonnaise, you'll feel better!

Posted November 21, 2008 12:23 PM

Jessica Wong

Toronto

Hi folks!

For those looking for cost-saving tips, readers posted some really fantastic ones in response to my blog post from Nov. 4:
Tightening the belt before dinner

Cheers and thanks for reading!

Posted November 21, 2008 12:47 PM

Kitty

Caledon

I too clicked on this article thinking it had to due with the current financial/political climate and thought it would be about budgeting and saving tips.

Great job by Caitlin on her post. terrific tips and thoughtful advice. Your kids must be very proud of their mom.

Posted November 21, 2008 01:05 PM

stephen casey

Hard Times!! Born with a silver spoon in your mouth were ya? Sure every year even our best economic times has seen a shortage of seasonal foods in the off season. I'd hate to see you if Starbucks went out of business. I guess you'll think the end of the world is near.

Posted November 21, 2008 01:34 PM

Betta

Winnipeg

The local farmer's markets's are running out of fresh produce AND winter's coming? Where have you been wintering? Certainly not in Canada. I can't believe CBC actually let you post your inane thoughts.

Posted November 21, 2008 02:34 PM

Terrie Hall

The grocery store is full of good things to eat, but this body craves the basic - roast chicken, beef, hamburgers and potatoes. Winter vegetables are great - squash, turnip, cabbage (make cabbage rolls and freeze) real carrots (not those mini ones) - all good for you. Do not eat salad much, it only tastes good with tons of dressing - besides it can make you sick. ( e coli)
Would love to make my own mayonaise, store bought can turn - watch the expiry dates.

Posted November 21, 2008 05:10 PM

Connie

Toronto

It's too bad that most of the posters on here don't seem to realize that buying local, in season, produce is one of the best ways to stretch your food dollars.

Oh, and learn how to cook!

3 leeks, 3 potatoes and a bit of water or chicken stock will make enough leek and potato soup to feed 4 people as a main course (6 people as a side).
It beats KD any day and you don't have to worry about the unfortunate side effects of a grain and chemical only diet (like scurvy!).

Posted November 22, 2008 02:33 PM

paul hughes

calgary

2 words: rooftop greenhouses

Posted November 23, 2008 10:46 AM

Lou

Good remarks on using root vegetables & Caitlin's suggestions are fantastic. Get off the KD and noodles diet, cooking is not hard & can be a community event or try a potluck dinner with friends. Personally, I freeze local berries, especially Vancouver Island blackberries. You can also grow your own, I don't have a yard but I borrow a plot to garden. As an island resident it benefits me to support local farmers & food security is a major issue here so I better be able to look after myself and stock up.

Posted November 23, 2008 07:54 PM

Caitlin

Winnipeg

Lou, you saying "Vancouver Island blackberries" brought me right back 10 years! I lived in Victoria for a year at that time, and was dead broke! Whenever we went for a walk on the trails, there was a WALL of blackberries, and I would bring a pail or yogurt container with me every time! People gave me some looks, but it was public land and no one else was picking them, plus leaving them on the bush attracts wasps. :-)

I know some people must have read my post about the McGavin's, they were doing booming business on Saturday, I was glad to see! I half wanted to keep it to myself, but bad karma! :-) Good luck, all.

Posted November 24, 2008 08:30 AM

Sarah Pugh

..must...not...smirk...

ah heck. I live on Vancouver Island. I get to eat fresh local produce ALL YEAR LONG. Mwa ha ha ha...

(and why yes, the family DOES start to get a little sick of kale around March. But it makes them appreciate the fava beans and fresh greens in May just SO much more.)

Posted December 1, 2008 05:07 PM

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About the blog

From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.

About the writers

Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.

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