Letter to the Editor | Change and Adapt: Building a new food system for a post COVID-19 world

Well, at least now we know what we fear most in a crisis. Fearing a shortage of eggs perhaps, or cheese filled hot dogs, or logically all of the ingredients needed to prepare your favorite healthy meal might have made sense to me, but I would never have guessed toilet paper. Trying to understand the full meaning of all those empty shelves in the paper products section makes my head hurt.

Even more difficult to accept are empty shelves in the milk cooler while dairy farmers are dumping millions of gallons of milk at the farm. Supply is adequate, demand is there, but huge corporate processors simply cannot shift from packaging milk for schools and restaurants to putting milk in gallon and half gallon jugs for grocery stores. Retooling is simply too costly for what is assumed to be a temporary problem. And small family dairy farmers are, well . . . quaint but expendable –– at least in the eyes of a corporate run USDA.

No big deal destroying thousands of pigs and cows and (millions) of chickens either if COVID19 invades the handful of huge corporate slaughterhouses where workers labor shoulder to shoulder and line speed limits have been “relaxed” by government regulators –– I use the term loosely.

Clearly the dinosaur that is our industrial food system cannot cope well with unexpected change or crisis. If ever there were a time to get to know a farmer, this is it. Local or community-based food systems can keep healthy food on your table and your money circulating in your community –– in good times and bad.

A decentralized food system utilizing many small and medium sized regenerative farms using local and regional processing and distribution systems is the best way to ensure a safe and abundant food supply. The food system of the future will be determined by your purchasing choices now. Please choose wisely!

Dave Bishop, PrairiErth Farm, Atlanta, Ill.

Editor’s Note: Produce from Dave Bishop’s PrairiErth Farm can be purchased at Sous Chef, 1311 SW Adams St., Peoria.

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