Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ukrainian Canadian answer to rising food prices

This recent article gives me a feeling of déjà vu... and admittedly a bit of a smug feeling.

Canadians are trimming down on their food, lifestyle and travel habits as costs rise, says a new poll.

Three-quarters of the Canadians surveyed said they've noticed the price of food increasing in the last three months, and almost half of respondents said they were already buying cheaper products in place of more expensive items. ...

The survey, conducted by Harris-Decima on behalf of Investors Group, also reported Canadians are looking at trimming down how they eat and shop for food.

Eighty-seven per cent said they would be eating at home more rather than going out for a meal. Forty-six per cent want to grow their own vegetables and about 40 per cent said they would be eating less meat. ... (
Full article here.)

A very popular (altho not with me) past prime minister once suggested that "If you can't afford lettuce, then eat cabbage." I distinctly recall him saying that back when it actually happened, although on Google I could find no historical reference to it whatsoever (which made me wonder if I stepped into the Twilight Zone). So I'll have to resort to my good old-fashioned reference librarian.

Anyway... back to my déjà vu. Since Trudeau made that comment, I have mellowed considerably and now in fact regard it as very good advice. IMHO, generally speaking we Canadians have become far too extravagant and wasteful. So I see a "back to our gardens and kitchens" movement as a good thing, actually.

In my younger days I used to have a freezer packed with food that eventually got freezer-burned and thrown out. Not exactly a responsible way to recycle. Then I got smart, and bought an upright freezer and a Food Saver.

Now that I have the freezer (more or less) under control, I am turning my focus to my refrigerator. I don't grow my own vegetables (although I have chives in my flowerbed) and have no intention of ever getting a cow and chickens for my own dairy products. However, I am paring down the "staples" in my fridge and learning how to cook more frugally as well as efficiently.

One of the things that is helping me is Sylvia's recipes, which can be heard on Nash Holos. We are compiling a cookbook of the recipes she has shared with listeners over the years, and I am trying out a lot of them lately. :-)

Not that they are new to me ... like many Ukrainian Canadians, I grew up on these dishes. But over the years I got away from them, experimenting with different cuisines and developing new favourites.

Interestingly, as I've re-discovered and begun to re-incorporate Ukrainian standards from buckwheat to borshch in my diet, I am finding myself feeling healthier. Of course, weaning myself off potato chips no doubt helps, so maybe it's just coincidence. But, maybe not. Only time will tell, as we say in Radioland.

As for cabbage, it is now a staple in my crisper. I sauté it often and make lazy cabbage rolls to keep in the freezer for a quick meal. Yum!! And I have created my own wonderful coleslaw using shredded cabbage, chopped green onion or chives, and a sprinkling of celery seeds tossed with a little cold-pressed (unrefined) sunflower oil imported from Ukraine. Double yum!!

Cabbage is amazingly healthful, and truly delicious. You will find many excellent cabbage (and other) recipes in our cookbook, which I hope to release by late summer.

Ukrainians wrote the book on frugal cooking ... ever hear the saying "cheap like borshch"? So our little contribution may well help you fight rising food costs. :-)

And incidentally, frugal certainly doesn't mean boring. The book has a combination of incredibly elegant as well as deliciously earthy recipes. Sylvia never fails to surprise me on Ukrainian Food Flair!

If you would like to advance order a copy of our cookbook, (tentatively) titled Try it... It's Ukrainian!, please let me know. Otherwise, stay tuned!

3 comments:

Stanislav said...

You are definately right. We have to re-consider our food habbit here in Canada and go to cheaper Ukrainian food. I an serious, I gonna talk to my wife about. Simple home made food seems more attractive to me, not only because I am proncipal account holder in my family :-) but because I am tired of all that plastic wrapped stuff. And, you are right again, this is a green approach. Go to eat cheap like Borszcz!

Pawlina said...

Interesting you say that, Stan.

Sylvia and I were just discussing how different things were when we were growing up. Back then just about every family had a garden and people knew how to cook ... besides adding water to something out of a package. And if anything canned was used, chances are it was home-canned!

We may be seeing a return to those "good old days," tho. With the way oil prices are going, imported foods will become more expensive. And with it being so trendy now to be "green" and concerned about burning fossil fuels, buying locally grown, in-season produce is already becoming fashionable as well as economical and practical.

It will be interesting to see how we meet our local needs, with the population growing so fast and so much prime agricultural land turned over to real estate developers in recent years. Perhaps there will be more commercial use of hydroponics. Or, now that composting is so trendy, more private backyard and patio gardens...

Stanislav said...

Seems like farmers gona to be reach. Since food price will be scyrocketing as oil prices as some analytics predicts.