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Tips to keep the global food crisis out of your kitchen

Make cuisine not compost for dinner 

Dee said my first Great Recession dish looked like compost: leftover rice, lettuce, tomatoes, hamburger, and who knows what else. 

That was circa 2009 in the depths the most significant decline in economic activity since The Great Depression. I traded my coffee for another friend's cigs, started a Port Hope's first "car share" program until the repo man rolled into town and planted seeds for a community garden. Times were tough. Many of us felt the pinch of poverty for several years after the The Great Recession. According to Investopedia, North America's household incomes did not meet their pre-recession levels until 2016 -- nearly a decade later. 

Save on your grocery bill as food prices soar

Global food supply shortages and inflation have inspired me to dust off my proverbial book of "recession recipes" so I can stay healthy and save money instead of spending all my hard earned dough on pizza when hunger strikes. Food prices rose 7.4 per cent in February this year from the same month a year earlier. This is the biggest jump in more than a decade. While 2022 is certainly a time of economic uncertainty, and food insecurity, we are also living on a planet that needs us to be more cautious of what and how we consume. Everything. Gone are the 99 cent TV dinners of 2008. Tough times call for more taste in the kitchen and consideration for the planet. This means thinking outside the grocery bag: 

  • Stop paying for all that packaging, processing and advertising. Collect your old jars and buy foods in bulk as much as possible: coffee, nuts, pasta, rice, cereal to keep costs (and carbon footprint) down.  
  • An apple a day keeps the hunger away. Apples are high in fibre which makes them a filling snack, not to mention healthy. 
  • Grow fruits and vegetables in your backyard, balcony or kitchen window sill. Did you know, on average, a tomato plant can yield 20 to 90 tomatoes?
  • Best before dates are not the same as expiry dates. An expiration date is last day a product is safe to consume. Best before date, on the other hand, tells you the food isn't perfect (but probably ok to consume). 
  • Can or freeze fresh produce. Many fruits and veggies can be canned. Freezing produce is even easier. 
  • In the meat aisle, choose a whole chicken instead of parts that have been processed and packed separately.
Securing fresh food in Toronto 
food share toronto

The global food crisis isn’t just about lack of food. Food insecurity can result in poor health, family breakdown, isolation, loneliness and many other negative outcomes. Inadequate or insecure access to food due to lack of money affects almost one in five Toronto households, and soon more thanks to inflation. 

Fortunutately, in Toronto, there are a number of food programs that aim to reach those who need it most for whatever reason. 


A cheap and cheerful chick pea salad your belly (and best buds) will love. 

My favourite salad which evolved (significantly) out of the recession will easily feed four as a meal. Feel free to add other ingredients like tomatoes and cucumbers, or try your chick peas with rice and cumin. Bring style to your recipe with a vintage pyrex bowl. The options are endless and inexpensive and, in many cases, ingredients like dried cranberries and walnuts can be stored for months. 

  • 1 bag dried chick peas 
  • Feta Cheese
  • 2 large carrots chopped
  • Walnuts 
  • Mayonaise
  • 1 Lemon 
  • Dried Cranberries 
  • Before anything, soak your chick peas overnight then bring to a boil a let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. 
  • Drain water and pour chick peas into a large bowl 
  • Mix in carrots, walnuts and cranberries 
  • In another bowl stir the mayo and lemon for your dressing and drizzle over chick pea salad 
  • Add feta 

As a person who lived through the Great Recession, I can tell you that hunger is a real pain but also a lesson. Since then I swore, I'd be in a better position to deal with any financial crisis that tries to enter my kitchen. I grow some of my own vegetables now, make most meals, side dishes, dressings and desserts from scratch, and eat leftovers for lunch. While my refrigerator is virtually empty, my cupboards are stocked with rice, dry lentils, kidney beans and chick peas, pasta, nuts, oats, spices and other pantry staples. Likewise my freezer is packed with frozen produce and leftovers of yesterday's cooking. Low-cost cuisine. Not compost.

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