"Preparing for a Pandemic: Stage 3: Grow Food if You Can [COVID-19, hort, US, Patreon]"

by Kenny1 min read3rd Apr 20209 comments



This is not the Stage 3 I thought I was going to be writing. That has been re-designated Stage 4, and this is getting abruptly inserted.

Over the last 48 hours, I've become aware of what I just posted about, in "Pay Attention". In addition to the things I posted, I've heard and seen a variety of little things and not so little things – this evening I was finally briefed by a friend who does business in China and has friends in Wuhan – which boil down to four points:

  • Food supply chains in other countries have already been disrupted at every point along the line – production, distribution, and vending – by the coronavirus;
  • We are beginning to see evidence of that happening in the US;
  • We have every reason to believe the US will do even worse with managing its supply chains than most other countries for a whole host of obvious reasons, from not be able to intervene as effectively as China did (and China had some weeks without fresh veggies in Wuhan!) to treating its largely undocumented population of migrant farm workers terribly, from having inadequate PPE for people working in the supply chain to probably having a more severe outbreak with a larger percentage of workers incapacitated.
  • There has already started a run on garden supplies in the US.

I think that if you can manage it, it would be a good idea if you grew food. Particularly fresh vegetables.


This blogger, siderea, has been (at least) as roughly prescient as anyone else about the COVID-19 pandemic and this topic – an impending drastic disruption to our food supplies – hasn't received much attention here (AFAIK).

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The run on garden supplies is because people are bored and don't have much else to do.

Unless you already have a good set up, growing your own food is expensive, both in terms of initial investment and time.

Sure plant a tomato or whatnot.

But if your goal is "have veggies in the future", buying a second freezer and stocking it with frozen veg / stocking canned veg is going to get you way more bang for your buck (unless you don't really put a value on your time, or enjoy it as a hobby)

Note: I'm one of those people who has taken up gardening for lack of other activities, and we've probably spent $200 so far, and that's WITH me getting a lot of free stuff from e.g. Nextdoor (which is a big time sink, because it disappears pretty fast)

I think some encouragement is warranted, especially for people that know how to do it most effectively. I wouldn't expect any of this to replace existing food supplies, but it might help complement them.

I dug into this here and found at least a quarter of US produce harvesting is mechanized, which makes me less nervous.

I also feel (somewhat) less nervous.

I imagine that additional supply, as is advocated in the linked post, might be worth trying to create for some people anyways. (Certainly some variance, generally, in regard to the tactics we use and strategies we pursue, individually, and in smaller groups, seems useful and worth encouraging.)

An online delivery grocery store in my area isn't listing what I'd expect 'impending extreme shortages expected' prices to be.

I am worried that prices generally are NOT efficient tho because of, e.g. ant-price-gouging laws and widespread anti-market bias and prejudice.

Yeah the only way I can see that prices now would rise in anticipation of months-away shortages would be someone buying loads of nonperishable food and putting it into a warehouse for storage. No one would do that at scale; they would expect to be vilified and their property confiscated.

Maybe we could look at the price of some financial instrument to learn the market's belief about future food prices, but I wouldn't know the details.

I'd imagine increased costs first squeeze 'existing' profits before prices rise so maybe publicly owned grocery companies would be a good enough (indirect) proxy.

1.5 months later, how are food supply chains doing in the US? Asking from Germany where initial pasta scarcity (for household size packages) has disappeared.

I don't think things are too bad, but I don't have a lot of evidence even for my own area. I've only bought food a handful of times in the past two months.

I didn't notice anything 'missing' from the grocery store the last time I was there a week or so ago.