Food insecurity is America’s next big pandemic problem

Freshly harvested Idaho potatoes. (Photo source: Handout)
Freshly harvested Idaho potatoes. (Photo source: Handout)

The complex supply chains of our food system have been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Farmers and consumers alike have been caught off-guard by price collapses and shifting demand; by government food policies that are less than helpful; and by hunger and malnutrition already extant across the country. It all adds up to a fast-changing food-supply panorama with a highly uncertain future.

Immigrant mutual food aid

In New York City, Wilmington, Delaware, and many other urban areas, immigrants are helping immigrants stay alive.

Undocumented immigrants in particular are out of work, isolated, and afraid to venture into public.

Others go shopping in teams for those shut in their homes, raise money on Facebook, turn to Mexican and Peruvian restaurants that are donating unused food, and are innovating at every turn to get necessary supplies to families living “in the shadows.”

Source: Associated Press

The great Idaho potato calamity

In Idaho, millions of potatoes are being destroyed.

Like many commodities, potatoes have suffered a catastrophic collapse in prices even as demand in increasing.

Moved by images of potatoes abandoned to rot, Idaho native Molly Page put together a “rescue team” and salvaged the spuds, then broadcast the availability of free potatoes on social media.

In another case of potato salvage, Farms to Food Banks arrange over 20 tons to be delivered from Idaho to some of the most food-insecure families in New York City’s South Bronx community.

Source: AccuWeather

The fall of Big Meat

“Big Meat” refers to the concentration of meat processing in a few very powerful industrial operations in the United State that rely on human labor.

No, we are not going to starve — grain processing is largely automated, and there is no evidence that any shortage of bread or pasta is happening.

But America’s addiction to meat — which buoys the economic health of entire American states — is tied into an industry ravaged by the coronavirus.

Small meat processors are helpful at a local scale, but simply cannot respond to the demand of American carnivores.

COVID-19 has revealed structural weaknesses at the heart of Big Meat — large workforces packed into close and often unsanitary quarters by in an industry deemed essential, but dominated by just a handful of players.

We’ll leave the conversation about the environmental impacts of the consolidated meat industry for another day …

Source: Grist

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