The photos above were typical shopping carts for us prior to returning home 4 years ago. At that time fresh protein sources were so cheap, whole chickens were less than $3CAN, that we fed our dogs better than what we sometimes ate ourselves. Feeding them whole chickens or chicken half’s was cheaper than imported processed dog food.
That was the pinnacle of our healthy diet, plenty of greens, good fats, delicious fruits and meat and fish. We would have salmon for breakfast and dinner. Bread was not a staple but a treat, like ice cream. Everything was fresh, and organic out of necessity, as food wasn’t as clean there.
When we first arrived back home I couldn’t understand why, with the exception of lobster, seafood sourced from the Atlantic, particularly salmon, was more expensive here than in Taiwan. But then you could get a PEI lobster sandwich at the movie theatre in Hsinchu for the same price as a bucket of popcorn here.
When you walk into a grocery store in Canada, if you are concerned about the food you eat, you stick to the outside of the store, and avoid the aisles. At RTMart in Hsinchu, the whole foods were all in one square boxy area, though later they got clever and added freezers of processed food just before the checkout aisles to increase profits. At the Superstore, which we started going to because they used to have the best prices and “in store” specials, now has resorted to putting Twizzlers, crackers, and other garbage amongst what used to be the fresh meat section (fresh fish is not a thing here). I took this initially as an ominous sign that real food was not available, but I’m starting to now think it’s just another ploy to get people to buy more high margin crap.
We used to plan our meals for the week, both for convenience and to make sure we were eating well. When food is affordable, you can plan, but now that the price of food has increased exponentially for our family, I go and buy the cheapest protein sources available and start from there. A couple of us have changed our protein sources somewhat, Camren in particular eats more plant protein, which is a good thing. But I think he would agree that eating salmon or steak is preferable to pea or pumpkin seed protein powder.
For the most part, our diet has changed for the worse, and the 20+ lbs I have gained since coming here is in part evidence of that. Some changes are inevitable, there will be no more bowls of sweet mango, sliced guava, lizhi, or bags of thick skinned oranges. The variety of “greens” has decreased somewhat.
Whenever Taiwanese friends would tell me that they left the US because they didn’t like the food, I would try not to show my astonishment at their choice. We live in a region where you can get almost anything you desire, for a price, and yet I am slowly starting to come to understand their point of view. It’s not so much that we can’t get a bowl of delicious beef noodles (you can’t) it’s that fresh food is expensive to the point of unattainability.
I tend to exaggerate, but first COVID, and now yet another insane war in Europe is making it more difficult for families to afford fresh food – even potato chips are overpriced.
Unfortunately, no place is immune to inflated food prices, and I understand the cheap protein sources we used to buy in the past are no longer as cheap today.