Business·CBC Forum

Cauliflower and celery and meat, oh my! Your ideas for tackling rising food prices

The University of Guelph Food Institute predicted last month that the average Canadian household will spend $345 more on food in 2016 than last year. Are the rising food prices affecting how you spend your money? You shared your thoughts via CBC Forum.

Prices for cauliflower, lettuce, apples, celery, pasta and meat have all spiked

Canadians may be pocketing a little extra change at the gas pump thanks to the plummeting price of crude, but experts say soaring food prices are more than offsetting the savings. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The University of Guelph Food Institute predicted last month that the average Canadian household will spend $345 more on food in 2016 than last year, and many have already pointed out the higher prices.

A weak loonie and drought in California have helped prices rise — prices for lettuce, apples, oranges, pasta and meat have all spiked in the last year, according to reports. The suddenly expensive cauliflower and celery even became trending targets on social media over the past week.

We wanted to know what you thought: What are you doing about the rising prices? Do you grin and bear it? Have you changed your grocery shopping habits or has it affected your spending elsewhere? Have you even noticed a difference?

You let us know what you thought via CBC Forum, our new attempt to encourage a different kind of conversation on our website. You shared cost-saving tips, advice on the bargain bin, even some of your cost-conscious recipes. Here's a few of the most thoughtful and insightful comments that you brought up in the discussion.

Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the username to see the comment in the blog format.

Many offered their own solutions for coping with the spike in prices.

The ideas you served up were both big and small in scope.

  • "Having been through a few recessions, we've found the easiest way to save money on food is to change our expectations. Grapes are un-affordable? They're off the menu; likewise beef. I try to vary our menu by using different cooking styles and flavourings." — kroozle
  • ​"Don't buy any food that has gone way up in price. If nobody buys it, they will have to lower prices eventually." — Chewie
  • "I am sure the garden is many people's new best friend. Some could say that having two people working in the household is no longer profitable as having one person tend to the food and have a part time job. We rush to make money and spend much of it on food instead of seed, soil and tools." — Hunterandpen
  • ​"Why doesn't the government subsidize healthy food and tax fast food and junk? Save on healthcare in the future? Makes too much sense?"  Howard Forberg

Some even suggested a blast to the past approach.

  • "We have to get back to the way our grandparents dealt with life. Grow what you can, preserve it and unfortunately, fresh fruit in the winter is becoming a luxury." — Kim Heffernan​
  • "We need to go back to common sense. What [are] the natural foods of winter in Canada? Eat that! It is cheaper and healthier. Oranges are not an indigenous food for us. Find the natural foods for where you live and enjoy it!" — Louisette Lanteigne
The price of cauliflower in Ottawa made international headlines this winter, when prices hit $8 per head. After a slight delay, the price hike has now hit Nunavut with one Iqaluit store pricing the vegetable at more than $13. (Elyse Skura/CBC)

For others, it is all about prioritizing.

  • "Yes, vegetable prices rose. Decide for yourself how important they are to you. Chances are that vegetables are better for you than the other stuff on which you wish you could spend your money." — Fresh Outlook

Though sky-high prices for grapes and heads of cauliflower might seem bleak, many remained optimistic.

  • "Sure, they've gone up, but what I've saved in fuel offsets it. And come spring those prices will go down again. The shock of a sudden drop will wear off. The loonie with stabilize. And things will return to normal." — Peter Vartanis
  • "Flyers, freezers and a garden will get you through." Adrian Straathof
  • "I think we need to sit back and reflect on how lucky we are that we have the opportunity to even purchase such a wide variety of produce, at what could still be argued to be low/reasonable prices. I live in the far north of Canada, close to the N.W.T. border in Alberta. Even prices here continue to be reasonable, which I am very thankful." — Northern Kevin

You can read the full CBC Forum live blog discussion on rising food prices below.

Can't see the discussion forum? Click here.