In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens penned, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” His timeless words apply aptly to the year 2020.

Last January, I was excited by the anticipation of writing more restaurant reviews and filming interviews with farmers. By February, as I listened intently to the media reports about this threat called COVID-19, I had a sense of foreboding. On March 9th, my grocery shopping focused on shoring up my pantry with supplies to last several months.

By the end of March, with “lockdowns” in place, my calendar emptied of scheduled interviews, presentations, and events. The organizer’s deleted the summer food blogger’s conference. I found myself confused and sometimes, oddly in control. My writing became less about educating and more about helping others survive and thrive. Then in October, my world turned upside down and inside out. Yet, with new opportunities on the horizon, I remain optimistic and hopeful.

In 2021, significant changes in the world food system will continue. These are some areas to watch.

•  Convenient, online food shopping will expand. However, the needs of SNAP beneficiaries, the elderly, and the disabled must be addressed in areas of internet connection, living outside of delivery areas, lacking computer skills, or living in a state not covered by our online Department of Agriculture. 

•  AI will steer food transportation ships, replacing humans. Will this save or further harm the exploited? 

•  Chefs who used to make their living in restaurants will offer a greater variety of subscription cooking lessons via YouTube, which will help them keep a small staff employed. 

•  As profit-driven, solar panel “farms” rapidly take over pastures, they further erosion of essential topsoil and leave less space for plant growth. 

•  Big Agriculture is not efficient nor kind. We need to expand community-based food systems, uproot power structures, and develop policies that support these efforts. 

Good food isn’t only about nutrition and economics. It’s about cultivating communities to be compassionate, diverse, and equitable. Let’s make 2021 a year of building on the lessons learned in 2020.

Change is uncomfortable because it is unfamiliar but it is a fact of life. What we do with it is what matters.

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