A crisis such as COVID 19 creates not only challenges but opportunities both good and bad. Many politicians seem to view this crisis as an opportunity to push their social agendas and reshape our country in their own image. Some want to take this opportunity to erase their past mistakes such as states wanting their pre-COVID 19 debts to be paid off or oil refineries wanting to use the pandemic as an opportunity to get waivers from the Renewable Fuels Standard even though those requests had been previously turned down. Others have used this crisis to raise prices, push social reforms, and take away constitutional rights.
On the other hand, history teaches us that good opportunities often come from life-altering events like COVID 19. Already we are seeing a resurgence for local meat processors. Most local lockers are booked in advance for months to come and some are hiring more workers. This, of course, comes after years of decline as smaller operations were hard-pressed to compete with the major meatpackers.
This resurgence also follows the emerging consumer trend to shorten the food supply chain. Research from the Center for Food Integrity shows consumers are looking at “food miles”. In other words, a growing number of consumers are wanting to buy foods produced closer to where they live. This “local food” trend had already started to become popular before COVID 19 but this crisis has created an opportunity for it to expand. For fresh fruits and vegetables to meats, business is booming at a time when many businesses are struggling.
This doesn’t mean the current food supply system will or even should be dismantled but certainly, some improvements will be made. It does, however, create opportunities that hadn’t existed before this crisis. The door may also now be open for greater use of new technologies such as gene editing. Perhaps this will be the opportunity to better educate consumers about the benefits of new technology and not repeat past mistakes that led to consumer fears and resistance to GMOs. Our post-COVID 19 world will not be the same as it was before the crisis. Time will tell if it will be better or worse.