By Andrea Yoder
If you have ever doubted the impact your personal purchasing and lifestyle choices may have on the environment, society, economics, the supply chain or our food system, stop and consider the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had. As we come up on nearly a year since COVID-19 fully infiltrated our reality, we now have the ability to reflect on what has happened and glean valuable insights that can more carefully steer our individual and collective ships into the future. The Washington Post published an article earlier this month entitled “The Efficiency Curse” written by Michael Pollan who opened with this statement: “The first teachable moment of the pandemic, for me, was the supply chain.” When shelter at home orders went into effect, the market place changed, literally overnight. Consumers made immediate and drastic changes to their behaviors. No more eating at restaurants, no more going to work or school, less frequent shopping trips, nearly all meals at home and more food preparation happening in home kitchens. Shelves became barren with shortages of food, cleaning supplies, and of course…toilet paper. While hoarding may have been happening in some cases, it didn’t account for the entirety of the shortages. And while one segment of the market couldn’t keep product on the shelves, another segment of the market now had surplus. What was happening to our supply chain?
|Tomatoes & Tomatillos, just two of over 80 |
different crops grown on our farm!
|Rafael changing the plates on the vacuum seeder|
to adjust to different sizes of vegetable seeds
There may be many farmers in the world who would look at our field plans, shake their heads and call us simply crazy for growing more than 80 different crops! But there’s a reason we do this and that reason is diversity. First of all, we value CSA and in order to feed the same group of people for 30 weeks out of the year, we need more than 5-10 crops! But beyond that, diversity within our business has always allowed us to have some flexibility and a bit of built in resilience. Even in the most successful growing season, we are going to experience crop losses. If we play our cards right, we can absorb the losses with the success of other crops, or at the very least have enough wins over the course of the entire season to stay in the game. Pollan’s insight into diversity is spot on. “There is a price to diversity, but it creates a cushion that can be very important in times of crisis.”
|1.5 acre potato field with 9 different varieties!|
|Green bean harvest....use both hands!|
|Irrigation sprinklers watering a field to |
germinate freshly planted seeds in a drought year
|Gratitude for our front-line crew members!|
In many ways the pandemic has forced us as a society to be more conscious and mindful about where our food is coming from and what it takes to get it to our plates. It has also shed light on those individuals who previously have been overlooked in the shadows of our food system, “…the essential and front-line workers many of us never noticed before but whose well-being can no longer be separated from our own. It turns out we’re all in this leaky boat together, so, like it or not, we’d better start building systems and supply chains resilient enough to withstand the shocks to come.”
Please don’t ever underestimate the power you as an individual have to impact society, the economy, the environment, your community, and our food system simply with the day to day choices you make. You can, and do, make a difference.