Food Security During a Global Pandemic

Why more and more people can't take food security for granted during this ongoing worldwide pandemic.

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by Unsplash/Edgar Baltazar

COVID-19 is like a giant stone someone had hurled into the global pond: we can all feel the ripples, which in some cases are more like waves. Food prices and food security is one obvious example.

You probably remember the toilet paper rush at the start of the pandemic. All of a sudden, supermarket shelves were empty of TP and other basic essentials, with most of the public hoarding in a blind panic. Locally, we saw the shortages of other staple products, like eggs and butter. At the time it seemed like a temporary glitch, but now the picture appears different.

Most authoritative sources agree: food prices are rising, and the trend isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. Many of the reasons have to do with the pandemic in some way or other, including production and supply chain disruptions, increased shipping costs, and the dollar’s deprecation.

For people in developing countries, and for economically vulnerable people in developed countries, this may be a disaster. Some will get by with trimming off extras and being more mindful of what they put in their shopping cart. Others will face the painful choice between food and medicines, utilities, or transportation.

According to this article, “Large numbers of people in the Indo-Pacific region have returned to farming due to the economic impact of the pandemic; in many ways farming has acted as a de facto social safety net.”

It appears to me that those who were able to return to farming actually have an advantage over people in poor urban centers who may have had fewer options. In developed countries, many people don’t have the space or time to grow significant amounts of food. People who are locked into the money economy and have a fixed income will have no choice but to retrench and allocate more of their budget to food.

The article above also says, “The worst for consumers may still be to come, particularly in economies that are reliant on imports.” I happen to be living in a country that has, in the past couple of decades, nearly cut off domestic food production in favor of cheaper imports.

Now that imported goods are suddenly not so cheap anymore, we see the short-sightedness of being so entirely reliant on foreign production. To make up for the budget deficiencies, our government is choking us with new taxes.

In a time of unprecedented global crisis, laying aside some money every month can be as difficult as it is necessary. But a savings account may not be enough to prepare for the future. What we personally try to do, and what I heartily recommend to everyone is:

  • Learn to grow at least some food and explore the option of keeping at least some small livestock, even in urban areas
  • Support local farmers and buy directly from the producer whenever feasible
  • Foster healthy community ties that support systems like barter, skill swaps, and other mutually beneficial exchanges that bypass money
  • Upcycle, repurpose, and avoid unsustainable shopping habits as much as possible

It is my hope that these tidal global shifts will yet leave us stronger, more resilient, more creative, and more united as a worldwide community.

Anna Twitto‘s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna, her husband and their four children live on the outskirts of a small town in northern Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna’s books are on her Author PageConnect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog.

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