Involuntary Simplicity?


Mr. Saver Pays a Visit to the Food Truck

How would you feel about avocados being a rare seasonal treat?  Would your trip to Chipotle be complete without that glob of guac on top?  On my mind this week are thoughts about how changes in national (US) policy might affect my family.

Deportation of migrant workers, many of whom have falsified work papers (I didn’t know they were fake!), would immediately affect the prices of fresh food, most of which comes from California’s Central Valley.  Farmers hope their existing work force could be legalized, or that temporary work visas might be available to agricultural workers.  These low paying jobs are back-breaking and difficult to fill with US citizens, who can go work easier jobs for 10.00 an hour.  (For more background on this, read this article.). Crops need to be picked when they need to be picked and if labor is deported, millions of dollars of crops would be lost.

Rising fresh food prices could necessitate home gardens, canning, and buying local/seasonal.  Kind of a throwback to the ’40s  — before strawberries were available fresh year round.

The other piece of the food price puzzle is whether the government places trade restrictions and taxes on imported goods (say to pay for building a big wall), and importing fresh food like avocados and strawberries from places like Mexico quickly becomes cost-prohibitive.

Honestly, if the US sufficiently aggravates other countries, they may not buy goods from our farmers, who are barely hanging on as it is.  This could drive up subsidies which we pay for as taxpayers.

Changes in the cost of items can happen rapidly, as we have experienced occasionally with lettuce, citrus, and recently avocados due to things like weather and labor strikes.   What would your diet and budget look like if food prices increased?  Do you have a means to take advantage of food in season through canning or freezing?

Personally, I’m not ready to start stockpiling 5 pound cans of green beans, but it does get my mind turning about gardening and what we might grow that we will use and won’t be eaten by rabbits.  I have canned jam but never anything for food preservation; I do think this is a useful skill to have.

Do you think the scenarios above are possible?  Probable?   Canadian friends… where do you get your fresh produce from?









11 thoughts on “Involuntary Simplicity?

  1. anexactinglife

    Hi Jen, I only get fresh local fruit and veg from July to September. The rest of the year, everything is imported except apples and root vegetables! Most of our leafy vegetables are from California, citrus from Florida and others (such as avocados and bananas) from Mexico, Central and South America. Once a year, around Super Bowl time, avocados are under $1 each; the rest of the year they are closer to $2 each. The last time I bought a 10-lb. case of oranges, it was $14. Dreading what happens with NAFTA. Apparently the #1 export market for 38 states is Canada.

    1. Jen Post author

      We are about the same climate -wise… July-September. Changes in NAFTA or migrant labor policies have effects that ripple beyond the US. I’m not waving a flag for cheap produce with no regard to the lives of laborers… but US citizens are sure not used to paying for food at fair labor prices.

  2. "No Pension, Will Travel!" with Cheryl + Paul

    Yes, I think the average American consumer will suffer if these trade restrictions mount. (The well-off can always compensate.) Here in Canada, largely due to our short growing season, we import about 80% of our fresh produce. That varies a lot from place to place and season to season. More than half of that comes from the US, with Mexico second, and other Latin American countries accounting for most of the rest. China and South Africa provide a small but growing percentage. When, a couple of weeks ago, a news item mentioned a truckload of Mexican avocados stopped at the US border, a chorus of Canadians could be heard yelling, “We’ll take them!” That’s a clue.

    1. Jen Post author

      I hadn’t even heard about the trucks being turned away at the border. I see this was followed by a refusal to import American potatoes into the Mexican state of Jalisco. The farmers take a hit real fast in all of these scenarios.

      1. Jen Post author

        Would love to see it, but we can drive to Toronto… thus the draw. My daughter went to Detroit last year for a toy car engineering competition and she was so close to getting to Canada… she could see it from her hotel!

  3. Caleb Kohl

    We have a minimal food budget…$200 per month. We rarely opt for produce that isn’t in season because of the high costs involved with doing that. We buy bananas, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and lettuce year round. But for most of the rest of produce, we buy it when it’s in season. Since we live in the pacific northwest, in the Willamette Valley, we can stock up on a number of items from u-pick farms near where we live. We normally pick and freeze strawberries, blueberries, marionberries, peaches, and applesauce. We also always grow a few tomato plants that keep us well stocked with tomatoes for a couple months in summer.
    As far as prices going up and farmers losing money because of immigrant workers leaving? I believe that will most likely happen in the short term. But in the long term, we will adapt and make it work. Maybe it will inspire new innovation and technologies in the farming industries.

    1. Jen Post author

      It would be great to have innovation in the farming industry that would increase worker safety and improve food safety (thinking of pesticides and various outbreaks of E Coli.).

  4. Flo

    As someone who shops mainly at Aldi, I can definitely see where this would create a major problem! Many of the fresh items they sell are imported. Just another thing we all need to hold our breath on…(I’m turning blue)

    1. Jen Post author

      We just had an article in our paper that dairy farmers are freaking about losing their workforce. They tried to recruit urban unemployed to the positions but no takers. Apparently dairy/animal farming is one of the most dangerous occupations. I never though of this issue affecting midwestern farmers.


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