Covid-19 Has Revealed How Fragile Our Food System Is

The Lempert Report
April 28, 2020

Our friend, Professor Marion Nestle the Goddard Chair of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University offered a sobering assessment to Huff Post: “That the food system is failing is a given.”

Her frank, always honest and fact based learnings during the interview should make all of in the food industry sit up and listen carefully.

She points out that Americans are worried about food, many for the first time in their lives. While the U.S. government has said there are no nationwide shortages, that hasn’t stopped panic buying in supermarkets as coronavirus cases continue to tick upward.

Tom Levitt of Huff Post asked her, You’ve been collecting evidence on the impact of the coronavirus on food. What stands out so far for you?

Every single part of the food system is affected by [the pandemic], starting from production and where we are going to get people to harvest food if they’re not allowed to be near each other or come into the country

And then transportation and distribution. Who’s doing the home delivering? And how are the people working in stores staying safe and stopping themselves from infecting others if they have the virus? 

We’re seeing the shelves empty of certain kinds of products ― that’s going to increase as people are still hoarding food and it’s difficult for the stores to keep up with the demand. Restaurants are closed and going out of business and leaving staff unemployed. 

She said, that the food system is failing is a given: Witness hunger and food insecurity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, the impact of industrial agriculture on the environment, and gross inequalities among people involved in food production and consumption. 

Coronavirus, Nestle says, reveals these usually invisible inequalities.