How Coronavirus Shows Us Why Local Food Matters

We're experiencing a global health scare in the coronavirus that's unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. It emerged suddenly and unexpectedly, rapidly infecting people in China before spreading all over the world.

Although China seems to be slowing its own infection rate, the virus is continuing to spread throughout the world and people in the US are beginning to realize the magnitude of the situation.

Travel to the US from Europe is being halted, the NBA has indefinitely suspended its season, and perhaps the most personal hit to all of us - Tom Hanks (who doesn't love Tom Hanks?) has tested positive for the virus.

So, what are we to do?

If you're interested in some real concrete data, this thoroughly researched article offers some solid information on how coronavirus is spreading and is highly persuasive on the importance of acting now to prevent it from continuing. The good news is that it is well within our power to drastically reduce the impact the virus has. But only if we act.

Now, how does food and farming fit into all this?

The importance of having a truly local food supply never feels as urgent as when we're faced with an unexpected worldwide health scare as we are today.

If borders continue to close and free trade is temporarily stifled, then where else can we turn but our own community to keep ourselves fed?

This is not to be "alarmist," simply realistic: Having the food production capacity in our own communities to be self-sufficient is of critical importance. That should not be a controversial statement. 

Now, we hope it never gets to the point where travel is completely shut down, but you never know. Importing and trading food from far away places is an incredible luxury, but at the end of the day it is a luxury and it can come with some risks.

It's impossible to predict whether this luxury will be available to us forever. Of course in all likelihood it will be, but none of us have a crystal ball.

What will never change is that it is completely within our power to make decisions that help us live more sustainably and self-sufficiently so we are prepared for harder times.

Growing our own food can be part of that. So can supporting local farms or community gardens. Just eating healthier food in general to boost our own immune systems is a big part of it as well.

All of us have a wealth of resources in ourselves and our communities, and it would be a shame to let them go to waste by neglecting them or not investing in them as much as we could. This goes for the food system and every other aspect of our local economies.

The knowledge we can gain by learning how to garden or the relationships we can build by getting to know our neighbors who can share with us ... that stuff is so much more rewarding in the long run than the convenience of Amazon Prime. And it makes us less vulnerable to things like a global pandemic too!

We can reduce our risks if we choose to act.

Local healthy food is just one path to help us get there.

Think global, act local. That's about the best we can all do. And that's a lot.

That's this farmer's opinion at least! So let's do it!

PS: Tom Hanks is going to be just fine.