Ruminations on the supply chain in light of the virus.... big stuff, actually
Some of this is conjecture, but my education is in economics.... so it may be better described as observations in context. It is difficult to explain the modern supply chain. But, the reason we still don't have toilet paper, alcohol or yeast on the shelves in NC is because of modern "efficiency". Stores (especially Walmart) maximize profit and minimize cost by not storing products in warehouses. Computers record exactly how much of _______ is sold at any store. We will call it "X", but it can be anything form a porkchop to drain cleaner.
That product is manufactured in the cheapest place possible, in the cheapest way possible... which is why almost all tomatoes sold in America are grown in South America, where people make a few cents an hour and have no insurance or unemployment or health and safety regs. It is picked green, trucked in in huge containers and chemically ripened just before being put on the shelf for sale. It has no flavor, few vitamins, but it looks nice and it is cheap. The goal of the modern supply chain is that when that 1 tomato is sold, it should be replaced by 1 more, shipped in that very day, with no storage… storage costs money. Sure, domestic production happens seasonally, but it is heavily dependent on the exploitation of illegal immigrant labor (to which "compassionate" politicians turn a blind eye) and ships thousands of miles as well... and usually subsidized to offset regs… not much difference, really.
In this system, there is no place for the traditional American famer, who may wish to grow a variety of crops, or the person who likes food.
American farmers can't compete on produce - the growing season and the wages are lower further south. But, we can compete with grain. And, grain can feed livestock.
So, most American farmers now raise corn and soybeans... and most of that goes to feed, chickens, hogs and cows.... never mind those animals are designed by God to eat grass, vegetables and bugs... and feeding them on corn and soybeans means having to feed them tons of anti-biotics as well, and poisons to kills the worms...etc, etc... Animals are produced in a factory system... crowded into feed lots and containment housing, fed things they should never eat (including their own poop and dead chickens, cows and hogs... sterilized and "recycled"), in a way and in a density that turns their manure (which should be nutritious fertilizer for vegetables) into toxic waste.
Just like the tomato or that drain cleaner, meat becomes "X". It has to follow a strict schedule of production and shipping so exactly 10 packages of porkchops can be sold at Food Lion in _____ Podunk town on Monday afternoon.
So, a month ago, the supply chain got disrupted. The very limited stock on hand got bought up... and restaurants closed. The result? X, Y, and Z is still not on our shelves, because it either hasn't been made yet or is being shipped to higher density areas first. And millions of cows, chickens and pigs are being slaughtered and buried in great big pits. They couldn't go to market... there is no place for them. Farmers can't afford to feed them or house them... there is no place for them. The next generation is coming in tomorrow... stock on hand should have been shipped out yesterday!!!!!! It is like Lucy in the chocolate factory!!!
The entire supply chain is disrupted. More than half of Americans are out of work. You'd think they could benefit by taking this now worthless meat at low or no cost... nope. The whole damn system just fell apart.... leaving people hungry and farmers (potentially... without a bail out) bankrupt... all because of "modern efficiency."
This virus has exposed the vulnerability of food, fuel, etc like nothing before. Just as a collapsing oil price means that gas stations can run out of gas because the fuel companies can't afford to ship the oil, so does a disrupted supply chain in terms of food.
y'all, we need to make big changes in our society now! But, immediately, we need to become as self reliant as possible!