When striving for a world view, writing anything related to food is a challenge. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s access to food has become a significant issue, yet, not broadly known as such. Within my vast network, everyone is talking and striving for reasons and solutions. The world’s food system is rife with inconsistencies and inequities. Most people have been able to successfully ignore stories expressed by writers and activists who have been striving for decades to sound the alarm. People can relate to recipes and specific diets. Yet, other stories of who controls our access to food, toxins in our food, and food waste, are largely ignored. I have empathy with that condition. When we eat for our health, it’s hard to consider the system itself is not healthy.

Nationwide, meatpacking plants are closing. In the Midwest, Smithfield Foods closed. Smithfield is a subsidiary of the WH Group of China and China’s most significant acquisition of American land. There has been a longstanding issue with unsanitary work conditions. Many employees caught the coronavirus, contributing to its closure. No matter how we feel about industrial meat processing (its plant in Tar Heel, NC processes over 32,000 pigs a day), the fact remains, human beings are out of work with limited options of providing for themselves. The grief doesn’t end there. Farmers who supplied to Smithfield, now have no market for their pigs. A glut on the market of pork has forced the meat to become cheap enough that it is now virtually given away. These are deep issues primarily ignored when we talk about the problems around food shortages. Food shortages are the result of inappropriate policies. Smithfield and similar situations are symptoms of widespread disease in the food system here and abroad that has nothing to do with the coronavirus or any virus.

Smithfield Vice President, Kenneth M. Sullivan, claims they have run as long as they did to “sustain our nation’s food supply during this pandemic” (Smithfield.com) The truth is our food system has been unsustainable for decades. The results of this which we see now.

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