Shockingly, 3.5-year-old Mark still can’t make his own lunch, so every day, between 6 and 7 p.m., you can find me in the kitchen, cutting, prepping, cooking, boiling or grilling. Mark does like to cook with me once in a while so what used to take 30 minutes now takes an hour. His favourite part is cutting stuff. The making of a serial killer or, best option, a true French chef (although arguably, there is a thin line between both careers…). I pick the dullest blade I can find—easy, we have chopstick with tips sharper than our knives—and together, we slice tofu, ham, bread, carrots… “no, mommy do it, carrots is haaaard…”
When I look at the pictures, I realize that the contents of his lunch boxed are always pretty much the same. Rice or pasta because semolina is hard to eat without making a mess and Mark isn’t fond of potatoes. Some veggies, not so much these days because during these cold months we had less choice and Mark begged me to stop giving him broccoli. He loves proteins, though—fish sticks, eggs, chicken and even tofu or bean curd after he saw me eating some. Sandwiches can be savoury (usually ham, cream cheese, cucumber, etc.) or sweet (jam only, since nutty spreads are banned). Pieces of awful processed cheese, a few crackers, a cookie. Yogurt and a pouch of apple sauce.
The box usually comes back much lighter. Sometime Mark licks the jam off the bread or leaves out the crust and there are always a few veggies left. Occasionally, the cookie is untouched and I suspect the daycare staff hid it because it’s not politically correct to give your kid a cookie—SUGAR KILLS!
But all in all, I’ve got this North American tradition under control.
And on the topic of food, please, allow me to rant.
The out-of-control cost of cauliflower: Back in December, cauliflower became a luxury item as prices rose up to $8 a head. The very standard vegetable was in shortage because of a drought in California, and the weak Canadian dollar didn’t help. Now it’s back to normal price, between $2 and $3. Phew. What? I like cauliflower!
Higher food prices: The cauliflower story was a bit extreme and anecdotal but grocery bills are much higher in Canada this year. Food prices soar and the Canadian dollar is collapsing—yes, troubles ahead. According to StatsCan, overall food prices were up 3.6% year over year in March, after rising 3.9% in February. Fresh vegetables were up 14.9% over the past year, while fresh fruit was up 11.3%.
Empty shelves: Not only food is expensive but it’s gone missing! I’m not sure whether it’s just in my area or if this is a city-wide or province-wide issue, but the major supermarkets I shop at are often out of basic items. Carrots? Nope, bin is empty. Bread? Not today. Soup? One brand available, shelve otherwise empty. This is not Venezuela, it only lasts for a day or two, but it’s really annoying to go to several supermarkets to fill up the fridge. I’m used to items being sold out when they are on special (i.e. discounted) but this is not the case, and we can’t blame winter weather for delivery issues either.
Expiry dates: Sometime, the shelves are full. Unfortunately, they are full of items super close to the expiry date, as in, the following day. I’m a reasonable person, I know that I won’t die if I eat a yogurt at 1 a.m. the day it expires. But what are the chances we can finish a pack of 16 yogurts with a best-by date so close? Loblaws is awful for that, I have to triple check the date on all fresh products and I always find expired items that aren’t even discounted. Bruised veggies? Sure. A banana with brown spots? No problem. Outdated butter? No, thanks.
Starbucks betrayal: Starbucks changed its awesome reward system for a true “yeah, good luck getting free stuff” scheme. It used to be one star earned per purchase and after collecting 12 stars, you’d get a free item, drink or food. Now you get two stars per dollars spent. Smart people did the math: you have to spend $62.50 to get a free coffee. Worst deal ever and yes, I’m aware that it’s a first-world problem (but I’m not the only one ranting…)
How about you? Any food rant lately?