New Cost of Eating in British Columbia report published

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I have never been great at following a budget, but since I am now on maternity leave and our household income has decreased, I decided to take stock of our expenses and see where we could cut back. I was SHOCKED at how much we spent on groceries. We like good quality food and try to buy local and organic as much as possible, so I expected it to be high but…yikes…not that high! I thought surely we were spending at least twice what the average family was, but according to the Dieticians of Canada: 2011 Cost of Eating in British Columbia report published February 28, I guess not.

For the last decade, this report has detailed annual food costs for families in British Columbia. Health Canada’s National Nutritious Food Basket is a tool used to monitor the cost and affordability of healthy eating. In 2011, the provincial average cost of the nutritious food basket for a family of four was $868.43 per month. If you are a Kitsilano resident in the GVRD, that number increases to $944.16.

The report certainly highlights the fact that many BCers don’t have enough money to buy healthy food. Even families earning a reasonable living in Vancouver barely have anything left for other necessities after paying for both shelter and healthy food. Clearly a lack of food security in our community is a major concern.

The report recommends helping to build a strong market for local food by voting with your wallet and demanding it at restaurants, grocery stores, and other institutions. Great advice, but the problem is I already do this, resulting in a grocery bill that is even higher. Buying apples, meat, eggs and other products at the Farmers Market at three times the price of the items sold at Super Store is not sustainable as our family transitions to one salary. I would love to grown my own food, but the wait for a community garden plot is four years and the wait for a new home with my own garden plot is much, much longer.

How does a girl cut down on her grocery budget and support food security in her community?

Read the report here.

Last modified: March 1, 2012

6 Responses to " New Cost of Eating in British Columbia report published "

  1. Roberta King says:

    I live in Kits and am struggling. I think the only answer is move out to the suburbs or a smaller town!

  2. Michelle says:

    Janelle – I to have the same problem as you but an lucky to have enough space for one garden box that provides us with a good chunk of our veg throughout the summer and early fall. I am new to gardening so I didn’t plant any winter greens this year but I am looking forward to trying next year. I have also been coveting a Window Farm which looks like a fantastic way to produce fresh, healthy veg inside your own home year round (http://www.windowfarms.org/) Although there is an initial cost I think that it would pay off in a couple of months.

    We also like to eat organic meat but it is very expensive. We found room in our townhouse (okay, it is in our bedroom) for a standup freezer and have been purchasing beef in bulk directly from the farmer which ends up bringing our costs down. Before we had the standup freezer we used to split orders with our friends. http://www.redlbeef.ca/

    This summer I am also going to look into canning. It sounds like a lot of work but I figure it won’t be so bad if I do it with friends. Spending some time picking my own fruit or buying things in bulk while at their peak season will help bring the costs down.

    Thanks for the post. It is nice to see that we aren’t the only ones wanting to eat healthy food but cringing at the prices.

  3. Liz says:

    With one income we couldn’t afford to stay in Kits, and moved to North Van recently. Family of four our food budget is $400 a month……$450 if there’s no big bills to pay. No way we can afford the farmers market or eating local/ organic 🙁

  4. Bill Barilko says:

    Don’t get me started on those ripoff Farmer’s Markets-they recruit volunteer labour to work their stalls/encourage people to pay *even more than Whole Foods* and vacation points south all winter.

    Good for those farmers but if I paid their prices it would really suck to be me.

  5. Phil says:

    Holy crap – I spend about $400 monthly on groceries and I’m a single male! How are you family peeps cutting the corners?!

  6. Kits House says:

    Very relevant blog and report, thanks for sharing.

    Got FOOD SECURITY & ACCESS on your mind?

    Come & check out the WESTSIDE FOOD COLLABORATIVE vegetarian potluck from 6-8pm TONIGHT (Friday March 2) at St. Mark’s Church (1805 Larch St)!