The pandemic puts a stark spotlight on global food insecurity, social inequity, and the failures of our industrialized food system. Beyond the terrible toll of rising global hunger, the disruption caused by the disease highlights the vulnerability of those who grow, process, and distribute the world’s local food resources.
In the U.S., unsurprisingly, it is not the big corporate food producers with the resources to promote “direct-to-consumer food delivery” options that are being hurt, but small farmers, farmworkers, and food artisans already dealing with the economic impact of climate change.
With temperatures and precipitation rates in flux, small ranchers struggle to find ways to graze thier animals in shorter less reliable seasons. Meanwhile, small organic farmers and artisan winegrowers struggle to afford the regenerative solutions to climate-related heat-stress and disease in their fruit.
The pandemic also reveals how a centralized supply chain designed to serve as a mechanism for the distribution of “food-products” fails miserably as a means to provide people access to affordable food in times of need. One bright spot in these dark times is that the value of local food access has been highlighted, and new alliances between small farmers and local community services are now being forged to bring healthy unsold produce to underserved communities that need it most.
Small farms are vital to both the food security and financial stability of communities around the globe. The carbon footprint of the foods produced from their crops is much smaller than those of larger farms. Furthermore, the variety of those crops supports both the character of regional cuisine, and the biodiversity of the planet.
The small farmers and food artisans who nourish biodiversity, community, and food autonomy deserve our financial support. Only with a continued demand for their high-value products and services can they maintain the equitable, humane, and regenerative practices that the world so desperately needs.