While you’re waiting for your life to come back, give a thought to food security during quarantine and the impact it will have on the new normal.
While trawling through my emails this morning, I came across one that made me stop and think – about what food security during quarantine looks like, and more specifically, why buying and eating local in this time is so important.It seems no time since I last talked to you about the importance of local food security, and here I am again, banging on about the importance of sharing the local love – and for damn good reasons.
My mate Kris Lloyd, international cheese judge and Woodside Cheesewright cheese maker extraordinaire, has been offering customers some remarkable cheese bargains lately, including bulk purchases on some of her gourmet lines.
Now I don’t often use these pages for shameless plugs, and when I do you can be fairly sure there is more to the story – as there is in this case.
Besides having a very healthy retail business selling her artisan cheese, Kris also supplies hotels, restaurants and cafés all around Australia, so when the shutdown of ALL hospitality businesses was called, a large part of the demand for her products, plus those of countless other food suppliers across the country, abruptly ceased overnight.
Okay – a bit of a disaster, right?
But not just for Kris. She realised that if she cancelled her milk order, there would be some major repercussions, not only for her milk suppliers, but then for their suppliers and employees. Her decision would impact others well out of her immediate circle, limiting their subsequent purchasing power and damaging their community economies.
And this is the case all around the country – the ripple effect of one food business cancelling ingredients and fresh supplies spreads quickly. Producers are left with reduced, or more often, no income. They cannot pay their own suppliers, have no market for their products which are left to rot, and very quickly are faced with some pretty ugly decisions about whether or not they can continue to operate.
Now – while we know that this situation is temporary, a lot of fresh food producers operate on pretty slim margins, leaving them with almost no wiggle room, even within a short time period of just a few months. Many of them will simply go out of business.
The supply chain will be broken, irreparably so in some cases – livestock will have been sold, land and crops will have been ploughed up, processing equipment will be sold off to cover debts, skilled staff will be lost.
And do you know what this means to you, the consumer? Less choice when quarantine is lifted. Your new normal, when it eventually comes, may well have much less in the way of food options for you to choose from if you don’t pay attention to the issues of immediate food security during quarantine.
This is why supporting local producers and local eateries is so very important right now. If you want them to be there in some vaguely recognisable state when quarantine is lifted – with their suppliers still economically and practically viable – then, if you can afford it, you need to be buying from them right now.
So lash out, give yourself a break from the (seemingly endless, or is that just me?) meal preparation that isolation has required, and buy dinner from one of the many cafés and restaurants who have so creatively pivoted to provide take away food.
Forget about the big chain outlets, they’ll still be there at the end of this, but the guy that makes the artisan bread for your local café, or the woman who makes the cheese – and the farms who supply the wheat for the flour and the milk for the cheese – might not.
But what about the cheese bargains, you say?
Kris Lloyd Artisan is offering a wonderfully tempting and extremely affordable FOMO hamper. Containing a whole 600gm wheel of Charleston Jersey Brie, 500gms of Persian goat feta and a 1,2kg bucket of fresh goat curd, and priced at just $60 for $98 value, these are only available in limited numbers. The deal finishes on Tuesday 19 May, check out the details here.