Sunday, June 1, 2014

Grocery Shopping.

Public opinion of agriculture.  I often wonder what the consumer thinks when they buy their food at the grocery store or wherever.  When I buy food, I'm trying to think of what my thoughts are when I peruse through the aisles.  I look to see the price of clementines, when they are in season, and then I check that they are from Manila because they are either seedless or have very few seeds.  I look at the price of mangoes.  I check the size of the green peppers because I'm going to buy it anyway, and the price of the red peppers.  I just started buying out-of-our-season strawberries which I wouldn't do before because California was making money by sending big, white waterberries, not strawberries and until they found the link between heat stress and flavour, they were irrigating way too much.  I buy Ontario peaches and cherries, only because I used to sell those fruit at the St. Lawrence market for Cherry Avenue Farms in the late 90s, early 2000s and he's still my friend.  Every once in a while I find a Moyer's Farm caramel chocolate covered candy apple and buy it because I know the same Cherry Avenue Farms guy worked hard to make it.  Sometimes, it's even outdated or looks horrible because the caramel has slid down the sides of the apple but I know it's the store's fault because they have placed the apples on top of the salad fridge, instead of inside the fridge.  Then I text Paul and tell him how good it was but that he might want to have a discussion with his buyer because it's making his farm name and his awesome apples look bad. 
When I lived in Quebec, I learned a lot about labels and it was really only because of what I didn't want to purchase.  That being carrots that I knew were grown in black muck soils.  I chose to find the Prince Edward Island carrots from Brookfield Gardens.  Carrots in black muck have too much water and not enough flavour.  I don't really consider myself a connoisseur of carrots but if you had the chance to taste the difference, you'd be a believer. 
I tend not to buy Mexican foods, except bananas, just because I've been to Mexico and I'm not sure they are up to the food safety guidelines of the rest of the world. 

When buying beef, I tend not to choose the marbled beef because I don't like gristle, but rather choose the biggest, reddest piece of meat I can find.  Somedays I wish I knew more about cuts of beef that I might even do my own cuts, but that will have to be another lifetime when I become a butcher.  Do other people think that way?   Are other consumers maybe considering where the beef came from?  Are they wondering if the beef is from Argentina, the US maybe, or is it an animal that was grown on this Island?  Or is it even from Atlantic Canada?  I don't consider the way it was grown because I know how animals are raised and I know that if I'm buying Atlantic beef, then it was raised with respect to the animal and to me, the consumer.  

That brings to a point.  Farmers are not trying to add chemicals and antibiotics to their produce because they are trying to swindle you out of a dollar.  It's because they are trying to provide the consumer with a decent product that is not full of wormholes or gangrenous meat.  I realize that is disgusting to say but the reality of it is, if an animal gets a cut from a fence and it is starting to look like an infection, then it needs to be treated for the benefit to the animal to be healthy, not as a way to poison you and fill your body with antibiotics.  For many beef cattle in Canada, they have never had a dose of penicillin.  Why would a beef farmer who is making only a dollar a pound for his or her work, add the extra cost of penicillin to the finished product if it's not necessary?

And then I go to the chips aisle and the ice cream freezers, debate the price of potatoes versus the cost per gram of chip being offered, check for the blue cow symbol on the label to make sure its made with real milk, head off to the check out counter and call it a day.  

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