For us, this is a potentially existential crisis not only as individuals, but also as a community-owned business. Most of our farm’s produce is sold to restaurants and there is no question that many restaurants are liable to slow down or even fail before things get better. Of course, people must still eat and the best way to stay healthy is to eat a diet high in fresh, organically grown vegetables… Therefore, we are working to increase the amount of produce we deliver to local grocers (including our own store) and for sale directly to customers through our CSA. We are also continuing to plant on schedule under the assumption (hope?) that by the time the plants we put in the ground today bear fruit, this crisis will be more manageable. However, it would be naïve to downplay the potential risks. Despite our best efforts to stay healthy, we might not have the staff to harvest and deliver our produce; or too many of our customers might scale back purchases to the point where we cannot sell everything we grow. For a small low-margin business like ours, these scenarios would be devastating.
Part of the logic that drove my wife and I to create Our Table was to help increase the resiliency of our food system. The current industrial food system in our country is so focused on short-term "efficiency" (where efficiency is defined almost solely in terms of dollars and cents) that it routinely sacrifices resiliency, diversity, and the health of people, communities, and the planet. Locally produced food is, by definition, more resilient than food trucked from hundreds or thousands of miles away. Consider that most of the produce in our supermarkets is sourced from California where farms rely on large numbers of migrant workers housed in less-than-ideal conditions. What happens if Covid-19 runs rampant through these communities? Long supply chains rely on dozens and dozens of people in multiple companies showing up to work and doing their bit. It's all very "efficient" and, as a result, fragile.
What then can we do? Well, for one, I think it’s imperative that as a community and a nation, we come together to support each other. The government is considering a variety of measures to help small businesses survive this crisis. Since small businesses employ over 50% of all Americans, such initiatives impact all of us. We recently signed on to a letter to the Governor calling for some very specific relief measures. You too can petition your elected officials for action. It is also very important to continue supporting all your beloved local businesses. The Amazons of the world will probably grow and become even more powerful during this crisis. Sadly, they will likely do so at the cost of small locally owned businesses. Here at Our Table, you can sign up for our CSA, and order your groceries online for pickup or home delivery (use coupon code STOCKUP for free delivery). Please do not come to our store if you are sick or especially vulnerable – give us a call or order online and we will be happy to get your groceries for you. We ask that you not consume any food or drink you purchase at our store on our premises but, instead, take it home. We are cancelling our Friday happy hour and cancelling or postponing all other public events for the next 6-8 weeks. Most importantly, we ask that you take care of yourself and stay healthy! Although we’ll miss visiting with you, these actions will help ensure that a place you love will survive this crisis. For our part, we pledge to do everything in our power to remain open, grow the best food we can to ensure your health and wellbeing, and support our community.
What’s all this got to do with toilet paper? Well, for one, we implore you not to hoard. Hoarding has little long-term benefit and our need for toilet paper is unlikely to increase during a respiratory viral outbreak. Toilet paper is a modern invention which much of the world does just fine without; perhaps we will learn how to rely less on TP as well! We humans are very good at cooperating and coming together in times of crisis. Let’s support each other by doing just that. Also, conserve those squares…