April 9, 2020

“The Farm-to-Table Connection Comes Undone.”

“A direct pipeline to chefs that took decades to build has been cut off by the coronavirus, leaving small farmers and ranchers with food they can’t sell” (NYT).
For the first few weeks, farmers scrambled to find other ways to sell their crops. Some turned to online sales or tapped a renewed interest in community-supported agriculture, or C.S.A.s, in which farmers sell subscriptions for boxes of produce. Others delivered food to restaurants that had turned into pop-up grocers, or doubled down on the farmers’ markets that remained open. Many sent what they could to relief kitchens....

For some, it’s been the agricultural equivalent of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Celtuce, microgreens and gooseberries might make for a beautiful restaurant menu, but they aren’t what most stuck-at-home cooks are looking for.

72 comments:

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Things easily broken by this unprecedented "pause" in our economy: just-in-time delivery for complex manufacturing, global supply chains, dedicated supply chains (farm to table), confidence, schedules, people.

Bay Area Guy said...

Headline: "The Farm-to-Table Connection Comes Undone"

Hmm. I distinctly a recall an 11th grade journalist teacher, Mr. Barnett, telling us to use the active voice, not the passive voice.

The NYT headline kinds gives the impression, that some how, some way, ex nihilio, the connection just came undone?! How did that happen?

If I were Dean Banquet of the NYT - I would modify the headline to read:

"The Government Lockdown has Crippled the Farm-to-Table Connection. However, We Do Mean Well"

Skeptical Voter said...

It's not just the small farmer or the farm to market folks. I do feel sorry for all of the farmers who depended on farmer's markets as an outlet for their produce.

But it's also big corporate (and evil!!!!) farmers. Out here on the West Coast there are produce growers who "follow the season" planting crops in Yuma in the fall for harvest in the early spring, then moving north to the Salinas Valley. Some of them are committed to supermarket chains--others to restaurant supply. One grower--who's in the restaurant supply chain, said he plowed $1.5 billion worth of vegetables under in Yuma this month. The veggies are ready, but there's no market for them. And they don't last--produce is perishable. He had lettuce--but who's eating lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes in restaurants that are closed?

Ken B said...

BAG might think journalism class the acme, but I preferred logic. It is not only the government mandated shutdown which is at work. Restaurants everywhere saw sharp declines in their custom once people became worried about the virus and started distancing. This happened in most cases before the mandates. Some restaurants here closed up or went to takeout only, with restricted menus, before the mandates. It’s wrong to think business wouldn’t be affected by voluntary behavioral changes.

It’s not mandates that will kill the cruise ship industry.

Crimso said...

Send it to Fran Lebowitz.

Buckwheathikes said...

Farmers should open a direct pipeline to Fran Libowitz' pie hole.

Original Mike said...

"The Government Lockdown has Crippled the Farm-to-Table Connection"

If it saves one life…

Chris N said...

At Peace Plaza East, we collect cockroaches, mash them up into protein powder, mix that with goat's milk and 'Gaia juice' and voila:

Delicious bug-paste for all. 1,200 calories a day. Guaranteed.

Empathy. Earthsong. Equity.

Automatic_Wing said...

It's come undone, in this mad season

TreeJoe said...

"Highly perishable, high-cost-to-value, hard-to-source, restricted-supply-chain industry struggles in global pandemic."

To be fair, usually very high margin businesses are ones that are extremely subject to external risk impact.

Etienne said...

I know a guy who just bought new farm equipment for $800k and the contract he signed to operate it this summer, is now in danger of being void.

You can't farm for customers that are dead or bankrupt now.

Expect mushrooms to be unobtanium in the near future.

Original Mike said...

"but who's eating lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes in restaurants that are closed?"

We went shopping today and bought all those things. But we can't eat it all.

Step up to the plate, people!

Ken B said...

We drove out to a local farm/orchard that has a market for local produce. They do curbside pickup. No gooseberries, but the market for truck veggies is booming. One local farm market has a two day wait list.

chuck said...

I'm sure Krugman could deal with this if he were a farmer.

exhelodrvr1 said...

If they are farmers, they probably voted for Trump. So they are expendable.

Lucid-Ideas said...

Farm to table was an urban elitist hoax to begin with by people living in New York and Los Angeles that think Brawndo has got what plants crave...

...it's got electrolytes!

madAsHell said...

The bottled-hair-color-to-exposed-roots supply chain has been disrupted as well. But, I've been informed that a metallic gold sharpie works well for blondes-between-dye-jobs.

"It's not vanity!!" she says. "The Sharpie helps protect my investment!!"

Craig said...

LOL @Buckwheathikes

Howard said...

Didn't pass the sustainability stress test.

Lucid-Ideas said...

Remember something very important:

All of these 'trends' - all of it - are started by people that are taste-makers, taste-creators and taste-influencers that have absolutely no taste. None. They themselves are followers of some hyper-powered influencer that gets them cackling like snow-geese about the latest craze. It's fashion. It's feminine. It's hens laying eggs (but these people think eggs grow on trees).

If I hear more than 2 of my friends use a buzz-word ever, I immediately go in the opposite direction. They're herd-beasts latching on to a marketing gimmick and a ploy invented by talentless freaks with no taste and little experience of the world, like the advertising people in New York the original owners of Studio 54 wouldn't let into the building.

Stop. Buying. This crap. The moment you do these people might actually have to work for a living.

Temujin said...

Again- a hand-wringing narrow view by a NY Times staff writer. I'm telling you, we'd all be much better off getting our sources of information from another place. Any other place. New Yorkers have become single minded in their gloom of everything, hate for Trump, and disbelief that others have things figured out.

The creative businesses, and those willing to look at unorthodox methods of selling will survive. They will not only survive, but they'll find that they've tapped into new, previously unknown of markets for themselves.

My wife and I have been scouring national sources for online meats and seafood. It's phenomenal what's out there. And locally we're buying a once a week pick up from an organic produce farm. Not all small farmers everywhere will do well with it. But many will. Those who can think outside the normal routes will do fine. And many will find a new and loyal customer base. Such is how the world- the business world- works. You adapt and survive. Or you read the NY Times and sit in the dark wringing your hands. In our home, we're eating farm to table more than we ever have. And our habits have probably changed for the better, for good.

Ann Althouse said...

She's come undone.

She found a mountain that was far too high
And when she found out she couldn't fly
It was too late
It's too late
She's gone too far
She's lost the sun
She's come undun
She wanted truth but all she got was lies
Came the time to realize
And it was too late
She's come undun
She didn't know what she was headed for
And when I found what she was headed for
Mama, it was too late...

cubanbob said...

A lot of joking here but to get serious for a moment, farmers trashing billions in crops and going bust is a disaster. At this rate it won't be long before meat and chicken producers are going to going to get badly hurt as well. For God's sake, open the economy now.

n.n said...

Collateral damage, sometimes for social progress, other times with cause. What a "burden".

Government mandate, yes, where dictated. Perhaps where it's voluntary, too, but people tend to be prudent and bold.

Also, the spreaders of social contagion that have forced a phobic response, mismanagement of resources, and cross pollination.

Birkel said...

Ken B never expressed a single care for the people whose lives are ruined.

I am hoping for the economic ruin of Canada.

We are even.

Original Mike said...

Dairy farmers are dumping milk because, apparently, a lot less cheese is being made.

Anthony said...

Bay Area Guy said...
Headline: "The Farm-to-Table Connection Comes Undone"

Hmm. I distinctly a recall an 11th grade journalist teacher, Mr. Barnett, telling us to use the active voice, not the passive voice.

The NYT headline kinds gives the impression, that some how, some way, ex nihilio, the connection just came undone?! How did that happen?


This irritates the hell out of me while watching local news (which I haven't much, lately): everything seems to be due to "the coronavirus crisis". No, it's due to the crisis resulting from reaction to the coronavirus.

narciso said...

they do adopt the stupidest arguments

Mark said...

That's some governor you have in Wisconsin.
Watching a story right now showing a Wisconsin dairy farm dumping milk down the drain because there is nowhere else to put it.

Even if there is no school market to drink the milk, that would make a lot of cheese and could be used to benefit a lot of homeless, incarcerated, and hospitals and health care providers if the governor had the wisdom to snatch it up.

Sydney said...

Can't the farm to table chefs do curbside take out? We have such a restaurant around here and they are offering lunch and dinner pick up with ingredients from local farmers and food producers.

narciso said...

that means food prices will skyrocket, and there'll be scarcity, so on top of the poverty, we have that to look forward to,

TJM said...

New York Times = Very fake news, not worth reading

YoungHegelian said...

Celtuce, microgreens and gooseberries might make for a beautiful restaurant menu, but they aren’t what most stuck-at-home cooks are looking for.

Any locality that has a sizable community of Eastern or Northern Europeans will see those gooseberries snapped right up.

Those folks love gooseberries, but always say that they can never find decent gooseberries on this side of the pond.

I mean, they can't sell greens? C'mon, pull the other one!

JohnAnnArbor said...

There will be lots of economic disruptions and painful adjustments out there. Some will be "hip" like this one and get major media coverage. Others will affect average people, will be gigantic, but will be of no interest to the major media.

Michael K said...

Birkel said...
Ken B never expressed a single care for the people whose lives are ruined.

I am hoping for the economic ruin of Canada.


There is a troll over At Chicagoboyz who has been predicting a million deaths and he lives on Vancouver Island, the most left wing part of Canada and the place with the most Chinese.

Shouting Thomas said...

I feel for these guys.

End this fucking shutdown now!

Time to tar and feather some civil servants.

Francisco D said...

Farmers are masters at adapting to crises and extorting government for subsidies, price supports, etc. They look for ways to supplement their uncertain crop income.

My grandparents farmed in Kilbourn, Wisconsin from the 1920s to the early 1960s. They were hard working people who looked for every opportunity, job, and political advantage they could to support 6 kids. They survived the Great Depression by adapting to their circumstances. That is what farmers do.

However, Grandpa wasn't the sharpest knife in the entrepreneurial drawer. He had offers to buy land on both sides of the Wisconsin river, but thought it was poor land for farming. That land now incorporates most of a busy tourist attraction known as Wisconsin Dells.

Oy! No trust fund for me.

I'm Full of Soup said...

It's almost as if Big Tech / Bezos/ etc planned it this way.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

If it saves one life…

That bromide is the most asinine statement in the English language. But we hear it all the time from the left.

No - Sometimes saving one life and sacrificing all else to do so, is not worth it.

Michael said...

Restaurants, when permitted to reopen, will be faced with challenges beginning with the probable requirement that there be social distancing in the facility which will mean fewer tables or seats. The suppliers will therefore be dealt a substantial cut in their ordinary orders. The restaurant owners who borrow from the government to stay open will be saddled with the requirement that 75% of the borrowed funds go toward maintaining staff with the remainder available for debt service and resupplying food. This is going to be a significant challenge since the debt will likely eat up much of the 25%. Or all. The owner who has no surplus cash will be in a pickle.With smaller seating there will not be a need for the same staffing level as before. Next, customers will be wary of the staff, the food, the preparation, the general hygiene and choices of where to dine out will be governed by the comfort level the restaurant can provide. Shit show.

As a show of solidarity the federal government should fire or furlough the same percentage of employees as the general economy. That would throw a different perspective on the "rule" making that is coming.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

We are all suffering financially. I am. What makes one group more special than another?

A lot of farm to table farms around here are owned by rich trust funders. It's a hobby.

Fernandinande said...

A direct pipeline to chefs that took decades to build has been cut off by the coronavirus,

Funny how the socialists blame a disease organism for what the socialists did. Ha ha.

The real fun won't start until the farm to grocery store "pipeline" gets cut off by the wealthy socialists writing.

Jupiter said...

"I'm sure Krugman could deal with this if he were a farmer."

Bloomberg was the expert on farming. Remember that little freak?

iowan2 said...

Farmers can serve specialty markets (restaurants)but they have to accept the risk of tying their income to a single, or small group of restaurants. As a class of business, restaurants are at the top of the list of businesses most likely to fail. Same with organics. very limited markets.
Business is tough.

Fernandinande said...

Delicious bug-paste for all. 1,200 calories a day. Guaranteed.

The NYeT asks: "Why Aren’t We Eating More Insects?"

Maybe they'll find out why, pretty soon. But I hope not.

Ralph L said...

Some farmers were going to get hit by the next change in fad food anyway.

I don't know if the farm-to-table show A Chef's Life has spread outside NC, but I enjoy it, and I'm not a foodie.

Sebastian said...

"everything seems to be due to "the coronavirus crisis". No, it's due to the crisis resulting from reaction to the coronavirus."

Exactly. That will be part of The Reckoning.

But since we don't want to let a crisis go to waste: is there any prog cause that will survive unscathed?

Farm-to table: risky luxury.

GND: after this preview of coming attractions, no thanks.

Public transportation, mixed housing, urban density: a threat to public health.

Scientific expertise in government, the prog dream: it is to laugh.

Epidemiology, "science": watch out for GIGO and political shenanigans.


Sebastian said...

cubanbob: "farmers trashing billions in crops and going bust is a disaster"

As one commentator here would say: just marginal businesses going under, their problem.

Or another: stop suggesting the economy is "being destroyed."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Anthony This irritates the hell out of me while watching local news (which I haven't much, lately): everything seems to be due to "the coronavirus crisis". No, it's due to the crisis resulting from reaction to the coronavirus.

EXACTLY!! We don't even really know if the Virus itself IS a crisis situation. No where near as many people thus far have either caught and been diagnosed or died from being ill with Corona....as would regularly occur in an annual and normal flu season. (Not to diminish the people who have gotten sick and those who have sadly died)

The stats and reporting about Corona are suspicious. No one is dying of heart attacks or other diseases anymore. Everyone who dies is Corona related?? Hmmmmm?

The CRISIS is the hysteria and draconian rules and reactions from the powers that be. (for now that is 🤨) The crisis is the destruction of the economy, businesses. The crisis is the Government overstepping their bounds, abrogating powers to themselves that they don't have and violating our Constitutional rights.

This crisis is going to create and even BIGGER CRISIS. Beware.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Original Mike... My father told me of the horrors of farmers dumping milk while the people were starving DURING THE DEPRESSION. My mother told me that squirrels went first, then cats then dogs. She said everyone knew who was doing it, but those folks were starving. Personally
I think of the greenhouse flower growers I know well. I'm gonna buy the shit outta whatever they're sellin this year. I can, (can't), wait.

stever said...

Part of the battle will be how quickly people snap back and Trump acting optimistic is somehow criticized. The MSM only wants to hurt him.

BTW I like Burton Cummings

Vance said...

Huh. Looks like a lot of demand that's being bottled up. People are going to be demanding a lot of food soon. Fresh food.

Yeah, it is going to be bad right now for. those poor souls that have to plow all that food under, or dump it out... but later, the demand will rebound.

I'm planning on starting my own little farm operation this year, in fact. Got a few acres, maybe grow a market garden or something. People would rather buy local than get their veggies from Chile, right?

Titus said...

My mom and I were talking last night and she said wisconsin farmers are dumping milk. Cow’s breasts are called utters.


Tits

Titus said...

I come from a farming family. Both parents grew up on farms and many relatives are farmers. I was the black sheep.

Utters

Original Mike said...

"Bloomberg was the expert on farming. Remember that little freak?"

We just started watching the Survivors that we recorded while we were in NZ. The Bloomberg ads are kind of fun.

Titus said...

I milked a cow and liked it.

jim said...

We know a local farmer in this predicament. For us it means the nicest eggs money can buy, for free (other than a little work on the berry bushes).

He and his wife are setup for this, they will survive.

rhhardin said...

The free market sets up and runs intricate systems automatically. Central planning can't deal with it.

narciso said...

priorities

rehajm said...

My take: the lockdown is impacting a leftie pet, and they will suffer, so expect think pieces calling to restart humanity...

n.n said...

If it saves one life…

We know that is not the motive.

Original Mike said...

My wife has read that fresh produce isn't selling well because people are afraid of it. Some apparently are afraid its contaminated with virus.

Marcus said...

And idiots online, when they learn of farms here in Florida, plowing over the crops they cannot sell, the farmers!

THEOLDMAN

I ask them to volunteer to go out, collect, box and transport the crops to local food pantries. These people don't have a clue.

Francisco D said...

Titus said ... My mom and I were talking last night and she said wisconsin farmers are dumping milk.

They have done that before in Wisconsin as a political protest in favor of better price supports. Farmers are more resourceful and aware of the bigger picture than Mike Bloomberg would believe.

Titus said...

I just talked to my mom again just now. She said they were dumping milk because the schools are closed and grocery stores are limiting the amount of milk you can buy.

Do you know that is legal in some states to fuck farm animals?

Eric said...

I, for one, am heartened by the prospect of a future with ever-so-slightly less affectation.

cubanbob said...

Sebastian said...
cubanbob: "farmers trashing billions in crops and going bust is a disaster"

As one commentator here would say: just marginal businesses going under, their problem."

No doubt the same schmuck also believes because the population is largely obese and a long bout of fasting will good for the health of country.

Lewis Wetzel said...

You can have redundancy, or efficiency, but not both.
Sorry.
Maybe the entrepreneur's mottoes of "move fast and break things" and "disrupt existing industries" is destroying a lot of redundancy that built up over many years, in many environments. Maybe too much. A complex world where everything is interconnected and interdependent is not a more secure world, if the mechanisms that allow these interconnections and interdependence are fragile.

DavidD said...

Just wait until the Democrat politicians hear about all the migrant farm workers being put out of work as crops are plowed under.

Poof. End of crisis.

JAORE said...

In times of plenty we can indulge our little vanities like free-range chickens, gooseberry tarts and the like. If this shit-show goes on much longer we'll start to see how unimportant many of our must-haves are not.

Banjo said...

I worry that the present ruckus will weaken the many causes that filled the media not so very long ago. Just to mention one, will drag queens still be invited to the children's hours at libraries in the hip, totally with-it neighborhoods? And what about snowflakes? It will require heavy equipment to get them out of their locked and barred safe places. And what about pink hair and egg-yolk yellow--are they over?

Birkel said...

Lewis Wetzel,
I have a paper on just that topic. I really should finish it.