Now that toilet paper is back in stock and we are slowly adjusting to our new normal way of living, you may continue to see our food supply change for the next few months. I am going to focus on our Canadian produce supply for this post because I think this is a great time to remind everyone where their food comes from. Even though COVID19 truly sucks, we can learn a lot from it and I really hope we learn to appreciate more of where our food comes from.
During this time of the year, many Canadian farms start bringing their migrant workers onto the farms to get the season going. We generally have about 20,000 migrant workers that come from different parts of the world like Mexico and the Caribbean to work the hard labour intensive jobs on the farms. Without these amazing hard-working people, you won’t be enjoying your delicious asparagus or apples that are grown in Canada. (Or the produce will be so expensive that we won’t be able to afford to buy it.)
The farms have been bringing migrant workers to help with farming for decades. You might be asking why they are not hiring local workers. Well to put it simply, most people are not cut out for these jobs. The job is hard on the body and most people who tried it, quit because they simply cannot handle it.
Like every other year, farms across Canada were getting ready for the arrival of the migrant workers. But then COVID19 hit, putting restrictions on travel and really putting the livelihood of farmers at risk. For a while, no one was really sure if the migrant workers were even allowed to come into Canada. Right now, there are some workers that have arrived to begin their seasonal work. However, the farms have to adapt to the new way of life – quarantining their workers before allowing them to work. They also have to space out their living quarters and put in place new ways to work to abide by social distancing. All easier said than done when it comes to working quickly to get food onto our dinner tables.
The reality is harsh, but most farms will likely not have enough workers to produce as much food as they normally would. Some farms have even decided to not harvest their crops this year since it is not financially worth it for them. What will this mean for us as consumers? Likely higher prices and maybe less products than we are used to.
Also, in any normal year, we still get a lot of produce from neighbouring countries like the United States. However, they are likely facing the same issues as us since they are dealing with COVID19 as well. So we probably won’t be getting much from them either.
Here are a few tips on how you can get produce during the summer if we do face shortages and higher prices:
- Grow your own food – if you haven’t done this, start with something simple like kale or lettuce. They are easy to grow and you can grow them in containers and won’t need a huge garden. Also, a great way to teach the family how to grow your own food!
- Stock up on some frozen vegetables and fruits so you have some backup options when the fresh products are not available
- Go for potatoes or mushrooms. There is actually a large amount of these crops. Since most restaurants are shut down, the consumption of these products has dropped so much that they cannot process them quickly enough. Listen up, time to eat your fries!
- Reduce food waste as much as you can. If you buy a pint of strawberries and cannot finish them, freeze them so it doesn’t get moldy, and now you have strawberries for later!
COVID19 will impact a lot of industries, especially the food industry. I really hope that we can learn from this experience. For me, I love visiting farms and seeing where my food comes from. I really appreciate the dedicated farmers and migrant workers that put food on my table at an affordable price. I know this summer will be hard and different but it just makes me appreciate the farming industry even more.
I have visited Norfolk County where so many produce comes from and I was hoping to make a visit this year. Unfortunately, that trip will have to be postponed. I did see this amazing documentary made my Two Tails Media highlighting how Norfolk County celebrates its migrant workers. At the end of the farming season each year, they put together a soccer tournament for them where they can socialize, let off some steam and have some fun! This was filmed last year and likely this tournament won’t happen this year. Let’s celebrate these workers daily by buying local produce as much as possible. Next year, I hope they throw these migrant workers a huge party!
Are you worried about the food supply this year because of COVID19? Comment below and let me know how you are adapting to these crazy times!