By Jeff Carter
Pinkie has called, an angry edge in her tone, to inquire about canning jars. Did I have any.
“I wanted to can a few jars of my pears, so I popped down my local hardware store and the grocer then drove to Walmart in town. Not a jar on the shelves anywhere. Just the promise of delivery, perhaps by the end of September, perhaps by mid-October, or later on. Not much use either way, not when canning pears. The hornets will have them in a few days.”
“Sorry, Pinkie, I’ve run up against same thing. I do have several of the litre type, with new lids, and a few wide mouths but I suspect that’s not what you’d really like.
“Guess you’ll have to eat those pears fresh … Uh, Pinkie, are you still there?”
I imagine her mouth poised in determination, wisps of frustration rising.
“Why don’t you call Bernardin. From what I gather, they have the concession on home canning?” I ask.
“I’ve been getting used to the pandemic, you know. Though I’m getting sick of hearing about it every time I turn on the radio or turn on the TV. Floods in Sudan and Bangladesh, Pakistan too. Thousands upon thousands forced from their homes in the Western U.S. by those fires. Same thing happened earlier in Australia. Then there’s the greatest humanitarian crisis of our times in Yemen, supported by Canadian-built light-armoured vehicles. And our friends in the not-so-United States tearing away at each other, Black against White, police against protesters, left against right, and a mad man leading the way – and, yes, I did call Bernardin.”
I think of letting Pinkie know that 500 ml jars were still available through Amazon but decide to let this little tidbit of information slide. At Canadian Tire, when they were available, a dozen jars with lids and rings could be purchased for about $12.50, tax included. On Amazon intrepid vendors were asking as much as $64.96.
“You’ve piqued my curiosity, Pinkie, what did they tell you?”
“It took me a half hour to get through. The woman I spoke to – she was quite nice – told me the jars are made in the U.S., Indiana – and that Bernardin Canada is essentially a distribution warehouse in Brampton. A canning jar monopoly, I gather, at least here in Canada.”
“I’d say the issue is related to Canadian food security, at least if you’re a home gardener. Was COVID-19 a factor, Pinkie? I mean, folks have become worried about their food supply, now that they’re stocked up on toiletries. There was a run on bedding plants this spring as I recall.”
“Yes, COVID was a factor, and not just affecting home canning. Apparently, restaurants and even bakeries have been buying up jars at an unprecedented rate, for delivered-to-your-home meals and treats, that sort of thing. Bernardin, like everyone else, was taken unawares.”
“So, jars are not available?”
“Not in time for my pears, friend, and so yes, I’ll take those litre jars and lids. Rings I have. I’ll give you a jar of pears as recompense, but I want the jar back.” ◊