The Covid pandemic shines a stark spotlight on global hunger, inequity, environmental fragility, and the failure of an industrialized food system. It also reveals how those most vital to our real security and prosperity, the people who grow, craft and distribute our food are often among the most vulnerable members of our society.
Obviously it is not the producers and purveyors with the means to create and promote “direct-to-consumer food delivery” services being hurt by the social disruption and insulation caused by the disease, but the small farmers, farmworkers, and food artisans who have already been hit hardest by the economic impact of climate change.
With temperatures and precipitation rates in flux, humane ranchers now struggle to find fields of healthy grass to graze their animals in shorter less reliable seasons. Owners of the small artisan wineries who source from organic vineyards face the expense of regenerative solutions to heat-stress and pest damage in their fruit. The small organic farmers who supply local restaurants with the fruits of their good land stewardship face sudden surplus and rising economic uncertainty.
Perhaps the one bright spot of Covid’s stark spotlight is that it clearly reveals how a centralized food supply chain designed as a mechanism for the distribution of “food-products” cannot provide people access to affordable food in times of crisis. New alliances between small farmers and local community services must now be quickly formed in order to bring surplus produce to the underserved communities that need it most.
Meanwhile, the small organic farms that so vital to both planetary and personal health must finally be recognized as essential services. Not only is the carbon footprint of locally grown produce smaller, its variety supports both regional cuisine and the biodiversity of the planet.
Small farmers and food artisans nourish biodiversity, community, and food autonomy. Now more than ever they depend on our patronage. Its not those who sell us dependency-relationships based on the ideology of convenience that we must support, but the local goods and services whose regenerative practices the world so desperately needs.