Scrambled Food Systems and New Local Food Hubs

There are a growing number of articles documenting the scrambling of our industrial food systems. This is creating a great opportunity to build new local food hubs and food-producing farms. Nature Towns provides a unique innovation in local farms financed by residential real estate.

In just 24 hours, I have seen the following articles:

  • CNN:  Meat plants are shutting down as workers get coronavirus. Fortunately, employers can shift activity to other plants and try to rotate plant shutdowns so long as only a few staff get the virus. It seems that the turnaround time to clean the plant is about 2 weeks. Let’s hope that not all the plants have a percentage of sick workers simultaneously.
  • Bloomberg:  Farmers are panic-buying to keep livestock fed. The vast majority of our confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are supplied just-in-time, a fragile strategy when disruptions occur. Collapsing oil prices are disrupting ethanol sales, which in turn disrupts the production of distillers’ grains, a key feedstock for cattle. These ripples are combining with changes to trucking patterns and the supply of drivers, to add further disruptions through the supply chain.
  • The Guardian:  ‘A disastrous situation’:  mountains of food are being wasted as coronavirus scrambles the supply chain. Roughly half the food grown in the US was previously destined for restaurants, schools, stadiums, theme parks, and cruise ships, none of which are operating now. Farmers are plowing it into the soil rather than pay for labor to pick it and have it rot.
  • Civil Eats:  The coronavirus is pushing dairy farmers to the brink. Long-running financial stresses on farmers left them in an already weakened state. Many will not have the financial strength to withstand the coronavirus disruptions.

From Release to Re-organization

According to the Canadian Ecologist C.S. Hollings, we are witnessing the final stage of a system in decline – the release phase. If you have ever heard Winston Churchill’s phrase “Never waste a good crisis,” then you can start to see the tremendous opportunity opening up before us. What happens after the release phase is the re-organization phase, and that is something that we are all privileged to be a part of.

Not everyone wants a return to reliance on the industrial food system that is making us sick. How do we want to re-organize our food system? At Nature Towns, we want more nutritious food (which is expensive due to the need for compost and minerals for the soil), more local food farms (but land near population nodes is expensive), and farms more resilient to drought and wildfire (it costs a lot to place 10% of the land in deep surface water reservoirs). Our system, though more expensive up front, spreads the cost among all those who benefit from it, and results in better food and health, more local jobs in food production, and an enormous local economic multiplier effect.

What we are discussing is the evolution of new circular economy startups, smaller circles that are more local. The circles apply not just to geography but also to the surpluses and waste streams that need to be recycled back into animal feed or compost, etc.  

Nature Towns has found a viable economic and financing plan to make new food hubs happen. It’s not about the technology of regenerative agriculture. Food hubs can regenerate our health, our wealth, and our new – properly designed – communities, and make a better world.  

Nature Towns are nurturing places that improve our lives, starting at the small-town scale. Click here to learn more.

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