Produce price crunch has shoppers looking for options

Cauliflower getting lots of media attention, but there's plenty to eat that's in season, says produce store owner

Shoppers browse through the offerings at Kin's Market in Sardis.

Shoppers browse through the offerings at Kin's Market in Sardis.

When word got out on Monday morning that Kin’s Farm Market was selling cauliflower for about $2 a head, local shoppers made a run for the Sardis store.

By early afternoon, the produce store was fresh out of the vegetable.

Store manager Phuong Tran said they planned the sale over the weekend, and were shocked by the response.

“I did not expect it to be such a sensation like that,” he said. “We simply tried our best to locate a good deal and pass it on to our customers.”

Tran is obviously pleased with the result, but not every seller has been able to pass on such good deals. Cauliflower made headlines across the country last week, with prices reportedly as high as $8 or $10 a head.

There’s a number of reasons for the high cost of fresh produce these days, with the weather and the Canadian dollar both main factors. California experienced a drought this year, which brought production and quality down. And when the supply goes down the price goes up, especially in the case of fresh, perishable foods.

Richard Procee, owner of Hofstede’s, says the dropping dollar isn’t helping matters. Canadian sellers buying from American growers are paying higher prices than they have in years.

To avoid paying high prices for produce, look for as much locally grown, in season produce as possible. So called “winter vegetables” in B.C. include broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, kale, leeks, turnips, rosemary, squash, cabbage, spinach and bok choi.

Cauliflower is in season from mid summer until about November, depending on the growing season. The demand of cauliflower is the highest over the Christmas holidays, Procee says, when people all over North America are buying.

It’s a favourite, like broccoli. And that’s why it’s made so many headlines the last few weeks.

“You never hear anyone complaining about the price of radishes,” he says. “They just don’t have the same appeal.

But the rising price of some foods shouldn’t keep people from eating a well-balanced, healthy diet, he says. When you see your favourite vegetable rise in price, it’s a good time to explore new recipes with vegetables you may be unfamiliar with.

“Google some new recipes,” he says. “Have some fun with it.”

With the holiday season over, he assures that the prices of cauliflower, broccoli and lettuce should start dropping again soon.

Shoppers can pick up “zucchini, cabbage, roots, beets, potatoes, parsnips, onions, all those things that are survive our climate well,” he adds.

“It’s a great time to experiment.”





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