By Clinton Monchuk
The system of supplying food for Canadians is much more complex than we often realize.
In uncertain times, it is especially important to understand this process of how the Canadian food system works to supply food to our grocery shelves. And how short-term disturbances can affect the moving parts that make the system work.
Let’s take for example the animal protein situation in the Covid-19 world we now live in. First and foremost, it’s reassuring to know that Covid-19 is not transmitted through food and that Canadians can continue to have confidence that our food is inspected and verified safe. Canadian food is safe to eat.
Secondly, there is no lack of meat to meet the demands of Canadians.
One area of the supply chain that always seems to withstand the ups and downs of consumption are the farmers and ranchers that care for the animals. Although each farmer or rancher has had to adjust their daily operations to limit interactions with humans, proper care and comfort of animals is still top priority on their own farms and ranches.
One avenue that we don’t always consider in the supply chain is the processing side of things because in ‘normal’ times, it all works almost seamlessly. At processing plants, people work in close proximity to each other. Processing companies are complying with new physical distancing requirements but instituting more distance between individuals does slow down processing capacity. As well, workers in these facilities are not immune to contracting Covid-19 from others. When this happens, it limits the work force in the same way that hospitals can be affected with sick health care workers. Without workers, this results in less processing capacity in the country, limiting the stocking capacity on grocery shelves.
Understand though, that these are short-term adjustments.
Workers do get better. Even if things do slow down, the supply of animal proteins won’t stop. Grocery shelves will be filled. We will still have beef, eggs, milk, pork, turkey and chicken to feed our families. To help the system we individually, can do our part to avoid panic purchasing. Be kind to other families who need to make meals too.
Here’s a few things you can do to help:
- Purchase only what you need. Don’t add to the panic.
- Add canned beans, lentils, mushrooms and other vegetables to dishes to stretch the proteins you have. Here are some recipes:
- You can stretch ground beef by adding breadcrumbs or rolled oats.
- Use up what’s already in your freezer or pantry.
- If you experience short-term shortages, try branching out to cook with other proteins than your usual.
- Have you tried: canned salmon, ham or chicken?
I also wanted to share this recent interview I did with the Saskatchewanderer on how farmers are doing during the pandemic.