Covid Journal, March 30, 2020
In Canada, we’re almost into 2 full weeks of self-isolation. It’s going as well as it could, but as some people have pointed out, it’s something that we in the ‘west’ have as a privilege. Others in countries like India and China are confirned to tight spaces and crammed into corners that many of us would shrink away from.
We will discover that – if there is truth to the severity of this virus – our chain is only as strong as the weakest link.
If we learn that lesson, we might have a chance to think about humanity as a single entity as opposed to the Ayn Rand BS of individualism.
(For the record, I’m not expressing a desire for either extreme.)
As our economies across the globe collapse, we have to consider the basics according to Maslow’s pyramid or hierarchy of needs:
Providing the base is what every government on the planet should be focused on right now: food, water, warmth (electricity) and rest.
I’ve heard very little from our politicians about how they will keep the food chain safe and I hate to admit this, but the masses were right when they panicked and tried to scoop up what they could as governments ‘eased’ us into Martial Law, er, ‘self-isolation’ and ‘social distancing’.
That’s why a story like this has me concerned. How long will our food chain last before waves of panic overtake the public again and the military has to come in to control crowds and dictate what people can buy for themselves and their families?
- Large-scale lockdowns to contain the coronavirus outbreak have hurt the supply of manpower and disrupted supply chains in the agriculture industry.
- The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said the world risks a “looming food crisis” unless measures are taken fast to protect the most vulnerable, keep global food supply chains alive and mitigate the pandemic’s impacts across the food system.
- As of now, disruptions are minimal as food supplies have been adequate. But price spikes are more likely for higher value products like meat and perishable commodities rather than for major staples which are still in adequate supply, said the FAO.
Among the major crop producing countries that have implemented export restrictions are Vietnam, which has curbed rice exports and Russia, which has halted processed grain exports. Kazakhstan has also suspended exports of wheat flour, buckwheat, sugar, sunflower oil, and some vegetables
Such moves could lead to an acceleration of food price inflation during a time when consumers are concerned about lockdowns and have created their own stockpiles at home
We’re already seeing some tough talk about poachers and profiteers, but why is it not acceptable when we simply want to have an extra bottle of bleach on hand or a bag of beans in storage when pharma companies and other private enterprises do it all the time behind closed doors? I’ve asked those questions before when it comes to things like vaccinations – what do we pay and who do we pay it to? – with few answers available.
On a bigger picture level, why was it acceptable being held hostage to OPEC for the last 40 years when we had the means to implement a network of renewable energy programs, making us independent from the oil barrons?
And when a Covid vaccine comes along, what kind of generosity are we going to see from the developers of said vaccine? Or will they just haul in a trillion dollars like it’s just another day at the office?
Let’s get back to food. Let’s ask these questions about our food chain that we can solve within the next few months so that Canadians won’t be held hostage to shortages, profiteers and market manipulation:
- Seed program – how are we capturing, storing and germenating seeds for our food?
- Products: what products can we grow all year round vs seasonal?
- What specific foods will we have to get used to and what will be a luxury?
- Rules: how are municipalities going to adapt to allow for different growing activities and people wanting to convert lawns and other potential growing areas into ‘Victory Gardens’ (ie. food we all grow ourselves to increase our independence)
- Charities: if we grow any excess amounts, how are we able to donate products to charities?
- Harvesting: why do we continue with imported temporary labour as part of our food network when this chain may break given embargoes and issues with migration? Why aren’t we training a generation of unemployed to help with seasonal activities?
- Storage: how are we teaching ourselves and the next generation to prepare, preserve and store food products safely and securely so that we can break the chain of dependence.
So many more questions … and opportunities. We need to immediately and urgently think of ways that we can gain control over our food system again.
I’m all continuing to get mangos from different parts of the world 365 days a year, but at what point do we have to look at what we can grow ourselves?
Final thoughts on food and water: Canada is home to more than 20% of the world’s fresh water. What are we doing to prevent companies like Nestle from scooping it up and selling it off in millions of plastic bottles? Isn’t it time we started treating water like it was our most valuable resource?
Other News and Updates
Does Denmark have the right idea? They are restructuring their economy in response to Covid, including buying out companies that can’t pay employees and taking ownership of the wheels that drive their system. I would think (or hope) that certain conditions would be applied to the support provided.
Jeff Bezos and many other billionaires have been caught selling short their shares of various companies. I know when I have to make a few purchases, Amazon will no longer be on that list. Meanwhile, Tim Boyle, lead executive of Columbia Sportswear, has taken a massive pay cut to provide for funding for his 3,500 retail employees that are going to suffer over the next couple of months.
In Donald Trump’s recent press gathering, it became apparent that he’s not handling the stress well and that the GOP may lose everything in November, despite the ridiculous polls showing the contrary.
Here are just a few notes from his meeting yesterday:
- He repeatedly accused nurses and leaders of different states of hoarding or stealing face masks and hospitals of hoarding vetilators. He also blems Obama for these shortages.
- He’s backpeddling on his outrageous target of getting Americans back into churches by Easter – now predicting millions in the US will die
- He starts talking about generators, not ventilators, for New York. Incorrectly.
- Trump is ignoring inequity in distribution – Florida getting more, Massacheusetts getting less. His opinion on governors vary from the idea that they’re happpy to the issue that none are happy. Inconsistency to the extreme.
- He goes on to blame Obama for cancelling tests for viruses. Tests that were started a mere three months ago. And cancelled by the Trump administration.
- A reporter quotes Trump’s statements from moments before and Trump accuses that reporter of lying. The reporter was literally quoting Trump.
Sigh … the fate of the Western world hangs in the balance and on the words of a madman. What are we supposed to do?