Heather Moore

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Just two years ago millennials were taking a big bite out of Canada’s food service sector.

Restaurants Canada’s 2018 Foodservice Facts showed times were good for the nation’s industry overall with growth of 5.1 per cent in 2017 after advancing 5.9 per cent in 2016. This contributed to annual total food service sales climbing to more than $84 billion.

Surges were observed in third party deliveries, mobile payments and expanded menus. Millennials were said to be looking for bold flavours, new experiences to share and customizable meals to suit busy on-the-go lifestyles. Breakfast had even become trendy again.

Now, not three years later, many of those same millennials are looking to the soil beneath their feet to source the food their grandparents planted, harvested and stowed away for winter.

COVID gardens are popping up like jack-in-the-boxes, sods are being turned over on once meticulously manicured grassy backyards (and front lawns) and popular varieties of veggie seeds are on most wanted lists.

That’s a good thing.

As prices slowly climb in grocery stores more and more consumers are forced to juggle finances and create new ideas for food to fill the dinner plate.

What else can we do in these foreign times?

A constant these days is seeing reduced inventory of some products that prior to the pandemic we took for granted would be available in grocery stores.

Island restaurants are arm-in-arm with other businesses in the process of crawling out of cavernous financial holes created by COVID-19 these past four months. The vision of a burst of tourists is optimistic while uncertainty surrounding the pandemic casts a foreboding shadow.

Last year’s Canada Foodservice report shows sales grew again to represent a $4.3-billion increase over 2017. That caps a winning streak of five-consecutive years of growth exceeding five per cent.

What the summer of 2020 will bring remains to be seen but there has never been a more important time for Islanders to support local restaurants - all businesses in fact.

When the economic pendulum swings back in our favour we want our favourite eateries and services to still be there.

The choice is ours to make. Regret isn’t productive but continuing to support enterprises on our doorstep is a good start to maintaining hope.

Heather Moore is editor of The Eastern Graphic. She can be reached at editor@peicanada.com

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