As supermarkets empty and restaurants close, we are forced to confront the security of our food system. This is an important time for major shifts on the supplier and consumer end to support a market that is changing daily. So what sort of changes are we seeing and how can we adapt?
Local/Small Scale Growers
Some small scale growers will have to redirect where, and to whom, to sell their produce as restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality industry shut down. Some farms are adapting by pivoting to a Community Supported Agriculture model (CSA) – in which they package up goods that can be picked up or delivered. Purdue University has provided a guide for local producers looking to navigate the COVID-19 outbreak. This guide offers ideas on changing business models while still meeting the needs of the market, reaching a customer base without increasing potential exposure to COVID-19, and ways to generate income during this challenging time. Even though a lot of their solutions are focused on the Indiana market, local farmers everywhere can gain some insight from this resource.
If you’re on the consumer side, another option for fresh produce are local co-ops or CSA programs, which may be providing discounts on deliverable food bundles. In this digital age, most local farms have social media accounts or websites where you can connect with them. Ask farmers if their produce is available through a local grocery store or restaurant where you can order takeout. If you want to buy directly, ask them what products they will have available and how pick up or delivery will be run.
Remember, fresh food tastes better and is likely more full of immune boosting nutrients. If you don’t know of a local farm or food co-op that you can source from, visit the website, Local Harvest. There you can search your area for local growers and farmers in your community.
Shifting our consumer habits to eating more locally has significant value. By supporting our local farmers we are strengthening our local economies and creating long-lasting food networks that will make us more resilient in times of uncertainty. Let’s think about “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing”. Let’s focus on safety while simultaneously feeling the hope of community.