Cyndi's Two Cents
Origin vs. price of nutrition
June 30, 2020 By Cyndi Young Filed Under: AgriNews Column, Two Cents
March 8 rolled around and most Americans pushed their clocks forward as
daylight saving time began, we certainly did not expect to find ourselves in
The Twilight Zone the following week. But we did.
have stopped asking “What could possibly happen next?” It is 2020 and the year
seems to take that question as a challenge.
often use this space to write about the great divide between those who grow the
food and those who consume the food. Many consumers are concerned, or at least
interested, in the origin of that which they eat and what they feed their
families. As COVID-19 made its way through several meat packing plants during
the height of the pandemic this spring, many consumers sought out local farmers
and ranchers to purchase pork and beef.
Many of them
asked the questions you would expect to hear: “Where was it grown? Is it
organic? Does it contain GMO’s? Were antibiotics used? What was it fed? Was it
kept in a cage? Is it hormone free? How much does it cost?”
answer to that final question determines whether most of the people will buy
it. Preference and behavior are not the same.
Once prices at the grocery store or big box store or butcher shop (those
that purchase meat from the same packer the grocery store or big box store purchases
meat) begins to drop back to pre-COVID prices, many consumers will stop buying
at the farm gate and start buying over the counter again.
are many horrible aspects to what we, as a country, have experienced since
entering the Twilight Zone back in mid-March. The bright spot for agriculture
is that many consumers stopped to think about where their food originates. Hopefully, some of the youngest generation
was able to make the connection between the burger on their plate and the cattle
in the pasture.
these challenging times, many of us adjusted at home, at work and in our
communities. Some rural businesses suffered
greatly. Some businesses are permanently
shuttered. Some of us took pay reductions. Others were furloughed and are still
unsure whether there will be a job to go back to when the dust settles. For some of our neighbors, providing sufficient
nutrition for their families has been a significant economic challenge. Buying pork or beef from Walmart or a local
farmer is out of the question because the money to pay for it just is not there
Economic Research Services (ERS) tells us what most of us already know: An
important indicator of the nation’s long-term well-being is poverty among
children, since child poverty often has an impact that carries throughout a
lifetime, particularly if the child lived in poverty at an early age. As with
the early 1980s recession, rural children have been disproportionately affected
by the recent economic downturn.
Nearly 13 million
kids in this country are food insecure.
That includes hundreds of thousands of kids in the agricultural
heartland of our great nation. Children in your community will go to bed
tonight without supper, not because they did not come home on time or failed to
do their chores. There are babies and toddlers, first and third graders,
pre-teens and teen-agers that live in your community, and go to your churches
and schools that do not know when they will have their next meal.
There has been
poverty since the beginning of time and there probably always will be some
level of poverty. It is my hope that when you can give someone a leg up,
instead of automatically writing a check to be sent overseas, you will think
about investing in those children in your own rural community.
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