The reason for the change? As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, people understand better than ever the need to obtain food from local farmers. The crisis has thrown the fragile state of the American food system into sharp relief.
Americans now may find a small supply or complete absence of certain types of food in their grocery. Many are experiencing this for the first time in their life and have come to see the disadvantages in a system where food travels an average of 1,500 miles to arrive at your grocery store.
Many also are learning that food produced by giant conglomerates has less nutritional density than food did in the past.
This has led many people to rethink how they buy food and also increased the sense of security when buying local.
Local Farmers See Increase in Business
Kathleen Finlay, founder of Pleiades, a national network of women environmental leaders, recently wrote for the Boston Globe that local farmers have seen a spike in consumer spending.
People visit New York City’s Greenmarket in bigger numbers and farmers have seen “a huge uptick” in sales of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, according to Finlay, the former managing director of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment.
Finlay reported that meat sales have increased at local farms where she lives near Cold Spring in the Hudson River Valley about 50 miles north of New York City. This is a change that could possibly become permanent.
Is This a Seismic Shift For Humanity?
It may seem dramatic to call the pandemic a seismic event for humanity, but it’s an idea backed by a scientific theory. That theory, according to Finlay, is called punctuated equilibrium. Molly Kile, an epidemiologist at Oregon State University, developed the theory, borrowing the term from evolutionary biology.
Punctuated equilibrium proposes that changes in species come during spikes of change, rather than steady, uniform and gradual adaptations. The isolated periods of rapid change happen after long periods of static behavior.
Taking that idea, Finlay wrote that the COVID-19 epidemic presents humanity with the opportunity to learn a lesson on how we need to cover the basic needs of the population. She wrote, “I hope that one of the things we realize as a society is how we are too reliant on a handful of food producers that are mostly turning out products that harm us rather than heal us.”
The Advantages of Locally Sourced Food
The virus has called attention to the fact that the fewer miles food travels, the easier it is for people to buy food securely. However, there are other advantages to locally sourced produce and meat.
For example, grass-fed, pasture finished beef contains none of the antibiotics or steroids found in industrial beef. It’s also richer in omega 3 and vitamins A and E.
Local farms also practice regenerative agriculture that is good for the environment and can lead to the sequestration of carbon dioxide, thereby reducing greenhouse gases.
Another positive is that local farmers live and work where they sell their products. They care about their community. They also are available for consumers to meet and get to know, something that is impossible with large industrial operations.
This is why many envision changes in the food system that rely on a decentralized system involving smaller farms that serve local regions, rather than a handful of companies growing food distributed across the nation - as well as imported beef from other countries.
Properly supported, local farmers can take care of the food needs in their communities. The current crisis may have opened the door to that healthy, safe approach to food distribution coming to pass sooner rather than later.
At Acabonac Farms, we offer residents of the tri-state area the chance to buy healthy, grass-fed beef produced by people who live and work on Long Island. Visit the products page on our website for more information on how to order locally sourced beef that will ship directly to your door.