As I wrote about in my previous posts, our country’s macro distribution system for food has been derailed. We didn’t plan for micro networks to be needed, and that oversight is in clear focus now. The point is that micro networks must be part of the solution.
The US quest for cheap food where dollar cost is the only value considered has badly damaged regional suppliers. The quest for cheap food also does not fully deliver what the customer wants. And, it has created a whole host of costs that don’t show up at the cash register.
Unseen costs and consequences of NOT having a robust Local food system are legion – here are a few:
- The demise of small and mid-sized farms. Result: Farms increasing in size to the point they are no longer welcome community assets and neighbors, particularly in animal operations.
- Farming not viewed as a profitable enterprise worth pursuing. Result: A “brain drain“ from an essential human occupation.
- Less choice in food source. Result: Consumers’ greater dependence on fewer providers.
- Farmers are not paid to protect soil or microbial health and no, the “market” does not build in this cost. Result: A long-term depletion of a valuable regional resource. To illustrate, when was the last time any of us bought food with this in mind? Exactly.
- Water seen as an input rather than a crucial resource to protect. Result: A long-term depletion and pollution of an existential resource.
- Less understanding of where food comes from. Result: Many of the problems listed above.
- Less understanding of the importance that a vibrant local economy plays within our national and global economy. Result: Less support of farming; increased animosity between farmers in rural settings and urban and suburban dwellers due to lack of connection.
- Dehumanization our food providers. Result: Dehumanization of the people that are part of that food logistics chain.
- The length of this list underscores the point that our over-reliance on macro networks has resulted not only in numerous unintended consequences, but also in consequences to critical things that consumers themselves value. Happily, it’s not too late to solve this for the future.