Food isn’t as scarce as we think

by Tammy Merrill

It’s been said America feeds the world, and it’s true! We are the top exporter of foods in the world. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of meat and protein are exported across the world from our shores every single month & annually we export more than 130 billion dollars worth of food & beverage goods. So how are we facing food shortages in our local
grocery stores daily?

The truth is we do not have a shortage of food in America. We have a shortage of processors, with meatpacking plants being shut down by the virus, the already limited resources are becoming more scarce. The lack of resources isn’t just limited to meat either. Produce farmers are also feeling the bite from COVID-19 with ripe fields left to rot since farmworkers are either sick themselves or unable to cross the border to harvest our food. So what do we do now?

If there was ever a time to #knowyourfarmer #knowyourfood this is it! I promise there are more farms selling locally grown food products than you
had any idea about. As Americans slowly turn away from the broken food system we’ve been force fed during the last century, more agrarian minded citizens are picking the shovels back up to supply their friends, families & neighbors with delicious healthy foods. Luckily eastern WA is bountiful with great farmers who know how to grow your food and can tell you how to cook it, too.

So where do you start to find your farmers? My first suggestion is your local farmers market. You will never find a more like minded group of people than your farmers market vendors. Their primary focus is always to bring good food and drink to the people. Farmers markets are already starting to open for the season. Make market day a scheduled priority in your home, then get out there and introduce yourself to your farmers. Get to know them, get on their email lists and do all you can to support them. Not only will these folks be able to tell you every nuance about their own products, but they are most likely to tell you who to turn to when they cannot
provide what you are looking for. Start looking for
your local farmers markets here …

Next, check with your neighbors to see what they may be raising. Reach out to local friends and see who is growing what, ask who shops where. Maybe
you can both grow something the other would like to share and swap when the crops are ready to harvest. Good ol’ barter system to the rescue! And don’t think for one moment that you can’t because you most certainly can. Start with something simple like paste and sauce tomatoes so that you can create pasta sauce later in the season. Plant peppers, too & make your own salsa at the end of summer. Each year add something new. Many urban neighborhoods have community garden plots available and there are countless social media groups devoted to growing food in pots so even apartment dwellers can grow their own food. Utilize social media to
find local farmers.

Lastly, here are some great links to help connect you with the diverse food system we have available all around us in Eastern WA. Happy eating!

Inland Northwest Food Network is dedicated to growing healthy communities through food by connecting people, places, food & farms.

LINC Foods is a worker and farmer-owned food hub based in Spokane, WA. They are working to bring a robust local food system and a vibrant ecosystem to the Inland Northwest.

Vets On The Farm provides a new mission for veterans transitioning out of military life. Their mission is to provide resources and opportunities for education, partnership, and employment to help veterans reach their goals.

Tammy Merrill is That Chick from the Barnyard, creator of natural soaps, skincare & home care solutions. She manages a small farm outside of Reardan, WA.

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