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Old 04-11-2020, 10:46 AM
Eva Luna is online now
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Chicago-ish, IL
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How to solve coronavirus-related food distribution conundrum?

Dairy farmers are being told to dump huge quantities of milk, at the same time that consumers are facing shortages and purchase limitations and food banks are seeing huge spikes in demand because of coronavirus-related layoffs.

It's happening with other food products too (eggs, etc.), but milk is more perishable than most.

How can this mismatch of supply and demand be alleviated, at least in part? For one thing, CSAs are seeing huge spikes in demand - we just signed up for the first time in a couple of years. Our CSA offers some add-ons; we may take advantage of eggs from time to time, and they do offer cheese, but unfortunately not milk. (Luckily we haven't run into milk shortages around here, and we buy 2 gallons max if we are due to make a batch of yogurt that week.) It's criminal to be forced to waste food when so many people are in need.

I would totally consider a milk add-on to my CSA if it were available. Packaging also seems to be a huge barrier, as well as processing. What other solutions are there?
Old 04-11-2020, 04:19 PM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust is online now
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 2,363
In many areas it's illegal to sell milk direct from the farm, because few farms have pasteurizing equipment, and a lot of states don't allow selling raw milk. This, in addition to the packaging and handling problem, makes it difficult or impossible for farms to offer the milk as CSA add-ons, or to transfer it to food pantries.

As I understand it the problem with milk is a backup at the processing plants, which are used to shipping a lot of the milk out packed for schools, restaurants, and large-scale cheesemakers in forms that don't work well for retail sales. If we had a larger number of smaller-scale processors, maybe they'd be able to shift gears more quickly; I don't know how the packing lines work in such places so am not sure. The entire structure of the food "industry", of course, has been concentrating everything into fewer and fewer operations at all levels, from seed companies through farms through all sorts of processors. This makes things more "efficient" in some senses (mostly in the sense of limiting human labor, though often at the cost of using more fossil fuels; if something saves money in the short run this society rarely looks at whether it's more "efficient" in other terms); but it also makes for a very fragile system, in which something that goes wrong at one point can cause problems all over the place.


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