As much as we’re against the idea of panic shopping, there are increasing warning signs that the national supply chain for fresh produce could devolve in the next few weeks. Stitcher Radio’s Epidemic podcast (unless you’re avoiding COVID coverage, subscribe to this treasure trove of science and policy) interviewed Greg Asbed, co-founder of the Fair Food Program. His take? “We are quite possibly two weeks, maybe three weeks away from having 50 percent of the farm labor force in this country unable to work. There will be food shortages … if we don’t protect the workers who pick those fruits and vegetables and get them on our tables every day. You know how you go to the store and there’s no toilet paper? That could be the case for produce.”
Simultaneously, on a local level, some of Portland’s most beloved farms are suffering after their main source of income—restaurant and bar accounts—disappeared almost overnight. Others, meanwhile, rely mostly on farmers markets, which have inevitably seen a drop in participants even with extensive new safety measures in place. The best thing you can do right now, for yourself, and for the local farm industry, is to sign up for a CSA. Last week, the Portland Farmers Market created a directory for local providers of produce, meat, diary, and a slew of other artisan goods.
Some of the farms listed already have well-established CSA programs, while others are scrambling to switch from a farmers market-dominant model to something that supports social distancing. Most, like PSU market standbys Deep Roots and Sun Gold Farms, offer regular pickup from the farmers market and at their home farm stands. If you’re dead-set on not leaving the house, local specialty markets, like Providore’s Rubinette Produce, offer next-day delivery and have been sourcing increasingly from some of those same small, local farms.