Climate change invites itself into your salads

Normally, summer means colorful fruit and vegetable salads at reasonable prices. But obviously the 2022 season is not normal.

Posted at 6:30am

The cultivated blueberry is the perfect example. For about two decades, three-for-five-dollar cans were easy to find in supermarkets once the plump New Jersey berries were ripe. Have you seen any this year?

A 340-gram pint was priced at $7 at Quebec Metros earlier last week before falling to $5. I’ve visited supermarkets all over Canada – virtually, of course – and it’s the same everywhere.

It feels like the middle of winter. That’s the general trend. Of course, we can occasionally stumble upon a stroke of luck. Walmart, for example, recently announced the tablet for $2.97. But it is still considerably more expensive than other summers.

The current price of this juicy berry is surprising.


Pints ​​of blueberries have long sold for $5 for three during the summer season.

“It is the most expensive fruit. I’ve never experienced that in 40 years, that the price has been so high for so long,” Joe Lavorato, president of Gaétan Bono Fruits et Légumes, a large Montreal-based importer, told me. All of this is entirely the fault of Mother Nature, who is not kind to America’s East Coast, he explains, adding that the fields were “destroyed by hail and abominable heat.”

This weather cocktail has significantly reduced the amount of fruit in the market.

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

Joe Lavorato, President of Gaétan Bono Fruits and Vegetables

“The supermarkets collect all the quantities we have,” reports Joe Lavorato, so it’s the turn of the small fruit shops. Grocery stores have also decided to stop selling blueberries because the casserole 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 stalls because for months this vegetable has cost as much as cherries.

Speaking of cherries, California and Washington state suffered from frost and downpours. Result: Scarlet pearls are rare, reports Joe Lavorato. “Typically California harvests 9 or 10 million cases of cherries. This year we will be at 4 million. It’s less than half. That puts pressure on prices. »


Joe Lavorato, President of Gaétan Bono Fruits and Vegetables

Importers of fresh fruit and vegetables have always had to deal with occasional unpredictable weather, currency fluctuations and roller-coaster transport costs. But now climate change is clouding the future. “I think that’s the biggest fear. How can we ensure that the planet is adequately fed at reasonable prices? It is a challenge world”, relaxed Joe Lavorato, thoughtful.

Oxfam is also concerned about the impact of climate change on world hunger. The organization gives an example of the drought that has been raging in some African countries for years, forcing farmers, fishermen and shepherds to look for other livelihoods. And the reduced production capacity for food threatens the population with famine⁠1.

The heat wave is hitting the whole world these days. A heat record from 1873 has just been broken in Shanghai, forests are burning in Europe, and Mexican farmers have shut down operations to conserve what little water is left⁠2. 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 10% due to the heat, threatening the parmesan cheese industry, reports CNN.⁠4.

All of this news should cause us serious concern, although it doesn’t appear 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 increases in fertilizer, transportation or wage prices. More blurry. However, it is a key element of the equation that is likely to increase in weight.

Global warming is even affecting the discounts you see (or no longer see) in flyers. Joe Lavorato says he’s finding it increasingly difficult “to tell retailers what prices they want three weeks in advance for their flyers.” The big chains would therefore have to “be careful 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 middle of summer. It’s a shame for the quality and budget of the food.

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

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