Cost of living
There’s no denying the cost of living, including the price of food, is rising, but by how much? We compared March 2022 prices for this basket of fruit and veg to August 2019.
Pre-pandemic, war and extreme weather events, this Co-op basket of certified organic produce cost members $37.07. The same basket of fruit and veg today is worth $46.54 for members. That’s an increase of $9.47 for members.
So what are the contributing factors to the price increase? Covid lockdowns and border closures, the effects of climate change on growing conditions and extreme weather events, and the war in Europe sending fuel prices rocketing has resulted in massive supply chain issues. And while we are able to absorb some price increases by reducing our mark up on readily available products and supporting locally grown produce, the reality is food will continue to become more expensive.
How to save money on food
There are several ways you can save money on food.
- Buy what’s in season – seasonal produce is cheapest because it’s in abundance. Don’t even think about imported asparagus in winter!
- Use it all – look for no-waste recipes, and ways to use up vegie peelings & meat bones. And don’t forget that left overs taste better the day after! Check out Cornersmith and OzHarvest for some great tips and recipes.
- Preserve, freeze, ferment – buy seasonal produce and put down some jars of pickles or preserves for when they’re out of season.
- Grow your own! A pot of herbs, some leafy greens, and a fruit tree or two will not only help you save on food costs they will provide enrichment, exercise and enable you to do your bit for the environment.
- Buy in bulk – don’t pay for unnecessary packaging – buy as much or as little as you need from food Co-ops using your own containers.
- Write a shopping list and weekly meal plan and stick to it! Only buy what you need to avoid waste.
- Take the pantry challenge and concoct a recipe using what you already have. You’d be surprised how many tins of tomatoes, jars of rice or beans, and dried herbs and spices squirreled away in cupboards combine with the contents from the bottom of your crisper to make a satisfying meal.
- Join a food co-op or local buying group to increase your buying power.
- Volunteer at the Co-op to receive a 20% discount on your shopping.
- Reach out to local charities or street pantries like Junction 142, the Salvos and Hazelbrook Street Pantry. If you find you really can’t make ends meet on the weekly shopping bill there are various charities and community organisations that provide food relief in the form of cheap or free vegie boxes and even hot meals.
Doing the sums
The following chart shows an update on the price comparison we conducted in August 2019 between a basket of Certified Organic Co-op fruit and veg versus the equivalent amount of conventionally grown (using pesticides) supermarket produce.
As you can see the dollar value of the Co-op basket is $2.14 more expensive than the supermarket basket. What you gain in health benefits from eating organic food, and what you contribute to the local community from supporting a not-for-profit cooperative is a little less obvious to calculate.