Explaining pandemic related food disruptions to consumers

The pandemic has brought about confusing contradictions for consumers where food is concerned.  Things like limits on meat purchases, near empty meat cases or no fresh meat at the store; pork and poultry farmers having to euthanize animals; milk dumping; fresh produce rotting in fields having to be plowed under.

Roxi Beck, consumer engagement director for the Center for Food Integrity, tells Brownfield Ag News a helpful analogy farmers can use to explain what’s happening to consumers is gardening. She says gardeners make their plans, buy the seeds, prepare the soil, “Then you plant. If all goes well, the product becomes perfectly ripe and you can, literally, enjoy the fruits of your labor. But, sometimes something disrupts that. Maybe it’s insects. Maybe it’s timing. You go on vacation, you can’t get to that produce at the right time. That produce can spoil on the vine, become overripe.”

Beck says while there are so many differences in growing plants and raising animals, the basics ARE the same, “Farmers are going through that cycle of planning and nurturing and working within a timeline to ensure than animals are ready for the market. And when it’s time to go to market – when that doesn’t exist – that is where this disruption has come up.”

The Center for Food Integrity has partnered with the Iowa and the Illinois Farm Bureaus to create an animated infographic showing how beef, pork and chicken make it from the farm to consumers’ plates which she says can take some of the confusion out of what’s happening.

Beef Pork Chicken: Journey to your plate

The most important thing for consumers to know, Beck says, is there is NO shortage of food, just temporary disruptions.

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