You know I love farmers. I understand their hard life, and what it’s like to labor all day and into the evening, only to sit at a farmer’s market and make $20. Farming is hard life, and, as I shared before, farmers aren’t rich, at least, monetarily.
One thing that farmers are rich in is FOOD. I’m thinking about our life on the farm and how, right outside our door, we had free-range chickens, producing year-round eggs. My then-farmer husband (he’s still my husband, just, not a farmer anymore ;)), milked our cows Violet and Snap Dragon, twice per day. Two cows produce far more milk than a family needs, though the milk can also feed other animals. We had plenty of milk!
We raised pastured chickens, turkey, ducks and geese, and at any given moment, you could find some of these animals on our property. My husband especially liked raising pigs. If we can ever buy a farm again, he’s asked, am I okay with him having pigs again? 😉
Attached to our home, we had a small farm store with meat for sale. I also stocked organic canned and packaged foods to sell. We had giant chest freezers full of meat, all the time. And on top of that, we had a 50′ x 50′ garden and fruit trees on the property!
I wish we owned all of those foods again.
The grocery stores have run out of many things lately. Recently, I made a large Clicklist order. I was getting repeated texts from my shopper, telling me that multiple items I had ordered were out of stock. I’m sure you guys have faced the same experience during our current crisis. She sent me the photo that’s at the top of this post. This struck a little fear in me, because I have seven people to feed, including THREE teenage boys. What will we do if stores don’t have the food we need? What will you do?
Crops Are Down
I heard a journalist say that crops were down all over the world. I can’t confirm that for sure, but I did see some concerning data on the USDA site. Several foods have had lower crops. Here are a few examples:
Dates, grapes, avocados, apricots, coffee and wild blueberries increased a bit, while everything else on this chart decreased. To be fair, we have seen an increase in two commodities: corn and soy. If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I have a few thoughts about these two “foods” being staples in our diet.
Meat Will Be in Short Supply, Too
So, at least in America, we’ve seen lower productions of some pretty important foods over the last several years. They can bounce back, though, right? Maybe, but there’s something else going on because of our current pandemic and economic crisis:
- Dairy farmers are dumping milk due to current low demand because of stay-home orders
- Pork plants are shutting down due to sick employees
- Meat packing plants close down because of close work conditions and the virus
Sadly, this is just proof of why the industrialized food system is a dangerous model. Do you see how quickly it can break down? We need small farmers more than ever, because this is going to have a direct impact on what grocery stores can stock. This is why I’m saying, as I’ve said several times on this blog, get to know your local farmer.
How You Can Support a Sustainable Food System (Small, Local Farmers)
I wrote about supporting farms, not factories. If you haven’t done it already, NOW is the time. Here are some things you can do:
- BUY from your local farmer.
- Buy foods you don’t typically use. Farmers run out of bacon quickly–but they have ribs, roasts and soup bones they would be happy to sell you. Try chicken feet and make super nourishing broth with it! Ask your farmer what they have a surplus of and buy that.
- Tip your farmer. NOW, more than ever. If you have an income (or a government stimulus chunk), you can help keep a local farm running by tipping them. Think about how you’d tip a restaurant employee.
- Volunteer for your local farmer. If there are less than 10 people in a crowd and you’re going to the farm for food or work, even if it is unpaid work, I can’t see how this goes against any state’s current policy. Farmers always need help on their farms.
Do NOT Expect Free Food From Your Local Farmer
Farmers pay for every animal, every barrel of feed, a water bill, an electricity bill, a mortgage, and they still have to buy food, clothing and supplies like you. They are not working for you for free. PLEASE respect their hard work. PLEASE pay them fairly and don’t complain when their food costs more than government-subsidized soy and corn fed meat from the grocery store.
There seems to be a mentality that because farmers chose the hard work of farming, they should be used to sacrifice. They should just be okay with low wages, because they’re farmers. I don’t know where this mentality came from, but I’m begging: STOP IT. Please respect a farmer like you respect a doctor. Your local farmer’s amazing food, on your table on a regular basis, may the very thing that keeps you from going to the doctor someday. Fresh, nutrient dense food is the fuel that feeds life. Please remember that.
How to Find Your Local Farmers
We just moved to Virginia from Oregon, and while we have frequented the community market a few times, we don’t know any local farmers yet. I am in the same boat as so many of you right now. These are the websites I am referencing to find local farms:
Also, look up your local farmers’ market’s Facebook group or website and then find a list of their vendors. Reach out to those vendors directly.
It’s Time to Support a Model That Works and Can Really Feed America
Guys, I’ve been preaching about the importance of small farms for years. This food shortage–the current one, and the worse one that is coming–is proof of what I’ve been saying. Please call your local farmers today. You want to know and support them right now.