My son lives in Massachusetts, and so I worry. He is having issues getting flour, meat, and fresh vegetables. The next town over has vegetables, but supermarket lines make for often a two-hour wait.

I went to the farm to buy raw milk yesterday, but it was all gone. The pasteurized milk sold out, so consumers bought the raw milk. As a defender of food sovereignty and the right to purchase raw milk, I find this behavior interesting. Funny how our “I would never” changes to “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Multinational meat-processing corporations have created massive wealth for themselves on the backs of exploited animals and employees. Long hours and unhealthy work conditions are the hallmarks of these corporations and are now the subject of the media as the ever-increasing number of coronavirus victims at these plants grows. America’s food system continues to crumble.

Following WWII, the mafia owned the meat businesses in cities. When butcher shops sold meat to the wrong people or didn’t save the best cuts for the right people, they would find their shops attacked. Butchering was a skilled art. Butchers were paid well and knew the anatomy of every animal, how to cut it, and how to prepare it so that even the cheapest cut was tasty. Gradually, small slaughterhouses became the norm. Extensive processing facilities took over smaller slaughterhouses, policy changes also attempted to shut them down, and now today, we have multinational corporations where cheap labor and faster processing is king.

Now, as plants shut down, consumers are experiencing meat shortages. Are the shortages real? Meatpacking facilities are operating at 60 percent. Daily slaughter rates of pigs are down 25 percent, with 400,000 pigs backed up in slaughterhouses. Yet, the Department of Agriculture April report shows 502 million pounds of beef in warehouse freezers, 1.3 billion pounds of chicken, and 621 million pounds of pork. Is the American public being fleeced? Time will play out this story. In the meantime, consumers are re-discovering buying from small, local farmers. Will this be the demise of extensive packing facilities such as Tyson and Smithfield?

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