What Can Consumers Do During the COVID-19 Crisis to Support Family Farms & Our Local Food System?
While confusion abounds during this ever-developing COVID-19 crisis, one thing is clear: a strong, healthy, local food system is absolutely essential during times like these. So what can consumers do right now to help assure that our family farms stay in business and the many people who comprise of our shared food system can weather this storm?
- Shop at Your Farmers Market. Most cities and counties in California have deemed farmers markets as “essential services,” allowing them to continue operation. Locally-grown, direct from a single source and sold in the open air, not only do are helping your local economy, you’re reducing risk. But for now, don’t mingle as usual. Get in, get your groceries, get out.
- Join a CSA. Just like farmers markets, joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shortens the distance between you and the field, all while supporting family farms in your community. These box subscriptions (many of which deliver or have convenient pick-up locations) offer a regular supply of seasonal farm products to help keep you healthy.
- Order from a Farm Online: Some farmers and ranchers are embracing e-commerce, setting up online stores so you can purchase direct. This option provides the convenience and safe distance that bigger online retailers do, but still allows you to support your food values. Check the websites of farmers in your community to see if they offer this service.
- Shop Locally. Can’t find everything you need direct from the farm? Most grocery stores are open for business. Consider supporting a local food coop or locally-owned grocery store that partners with local farms, ranches and food makers. A strong local economy will be vital in the months ahead as we face economic turmoil.
- Avoid WIC labeled products (if you are not a WIC recipient). People who receive WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women Infants & Children) can only use their benefits on certain items, brands and products. Given the panic-purchasing of late, avoid depleting the shelves of these essential items for of us who rely on it. In most grocery stores, these items are marked.
- Volunteer: As our communities respond to food-related challenges during COVID-19, many organizations are finding themselves short-staffed, with those ordered to take the greatest precaution (the elderly) often the most reliable volunteers. Activities might include packing boxes of food at food bank warehouses or delivering meals for homebound older adults. Check in with local food charities or volunteer centers to learn more.