Along with the wilting summer heat came the spike in vegetable prices, hitting middle and lower income families hard.
With the price of spices and vegetables such as ginger, garlic and potatoes hovering above Rs 150, Rs 30 and Rs 35 a kg respectively, many families in the city have either changed their shopping destinations or taken to vegetable gardening in order to cut down on their expenses.
Though the prices of vegetables, which had peaked in May, have gradually come down after good rains in Karnataka and Kerala — the major sourcing centres for markets in Chennai — prices of vegetables are still a long way off from being affordable to the average middle class and lower middle class consumers.
Sumathi S, a housewife from Koyambedu says though the drop in vegetable prices is welcome, key staples such as tomatoes, beans and lady’s finger, which are selling for around Rs 45, Rs 80 and Rs 45 respectively, are still out of reach for her due to her modest income.
“I usually go to the wholesale market on Sunday and buy whatever is cheaper. But these days, most vegetables are at least 15 to 20 per cent more expensive than what they were a couple of months ago. So I shop less and make do with whatever is available,” she adds.
Families across the city have also been forced to cut down on vegetable purchases.
Ranjeev, a bachelor from Choolaimedu, says he does his shopping at the Amma fair price shop, where vegetables are slightly cheaper than at the markets.
“Even if the Amma fair price shop is crowded, I still prefer shooping there, as I have to cook on my own and I don’t prefer eating outside. I have to wait in the morning rush just to buy a little amount of vegetables,” he says.
Some families living in independent houses have taken to vegetable gardening.
Amuthavalli, who lives in Anna Nagar, believes that every house owner who has some space to spare should grow their own vegetables. “It is a visceral feeling to produce your own vegetables. It doesn’t take a lot of effort. Not only do you save on costs, but you are assured that the vegetables you are consuming and are cooking for your children are healthy and organic,” she says.