Finding food security during economic instability ...

January 31, 2022

I had a customer question regarding my last email about the Trucker Mandate and I thought I'd share my answer here as a blog post because I find that whenever someone is asking there's often many more people who are thinking the same thing and would appreciate knowing as well. :)

Just to catch us all up to speed, there are currently, as of today while I write this (January 31st 2022) an estimated 58,000 truckers gathered in peaceful protest in Ottawa over the Trucker Vaccine Mandate. Further estimates say that 1.5 million Canadians have joined them on parliament hill in support of the movement.

While all this may prove to be a non issue as far as supply chains issues go, it certainly has the potential to have a great impact on what will be on the store shelves in our communities in the days ahead.

Our goal with our earlier email was simply to make our customer base aware of a potential disruption in supplies and services as a result of the Trucker Mandate and to educate about and advocate for pre-planning prior to adverse events. During a disruption (not just the Trucker’s Freedom Convoy but also things like flooding & road washouts, pandemic shortages, living at the end of the road in a more remote part of the province etc.) it is important to be well stocked. Everyone condemns panic buying but we really shouldn’t be surprised by it given the fact that grocery stores are only able to stock 3 days worth of food for their communities. That doesn’t say food security to me.

At 6S we try to encourage our customers to stay well stocked in advance of these kinds of events. Being well prepared helps everyone navigate these situations better. When you are well supplied by your local farmers you don’t need to be concerned with the grocery store’s ability to feed you as you’ve already looked after that end yourself and as farmers we’re not under pressure to push production unduly.

Part of our mission here at 6S is education:

It takes 2 years to grow a grass fed beef from birth to harvest.  10-12 months for a hog or lamb.  That’s a serious investment of time and capital that can’t be mass produced on short notice.  Not only that, but our harvest dates are booked a year in advance and as such we couldn’t harvest more animals than we have scheduled even if we wanted to.  By nature’s design, food production is a slow process tied to seasonality, it cannot be rushed to meet increased demand, and if it was it would most certainly be at the cost of producing a quality product. This is why it is so crucial to 'Know Your Farmer' and support local business far in advance of any disturbance.  

We need consumers at large to understand the dynamics of these situations because as the last two years have taught us, things can get complicated very quickly. All of our production projections are built on our current customer base/sales with a plan for moderate growth. Local farmers simply would not be able to meet the demands of an emergency situation at our current rates of production.  Imagine a whole community or a whole region looking to replace their food supply on short notice.  It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to realize the scale of the disaster that would create. 

I can’t tell you how many times over the past months people have said to me “if things get crazy we’re coming to your place”. That makes me incredibly concerned ... do you know how long our supplies would last if that happened? Not very. People are counting on a resource that just won’t be there! We need everyone sourcing their complete nutritional needs locally as soon as possible. That’s what a resilient and secure food system would look like but that is most certainly NOT what we currently have in our country. 

The reality is that we have a very broken food system in Canada. 50% of all the fresh produce in stores is trucked to our communities. Most of it travelling approximately 1500 kms from farm to market. 85% of the pork and 63% of the beef on grocery store shelves comes in from other countries while the Canadian government exports our own supply across international borders! If you’re like me you can’t help but think that’s absurd! That makes shopping at your 'local' grocery store a whole lot less local than you might initially think.

Here at 6S we have said from the start that we will supply our longtime and loyal customers first during any adverse events as they are the ones who have understood the value of securing their food source in advance of chaos. The hiccups that we've experienced over the past couple years should serve as warnings for us to be prepared as best as we can for uncertain times/situations because we've learned that things can get complicated very quickly.

So thank you for letting us be your farmers! Our family feels incredibly blessed to serve such a wonderful group of people who value the work we do and the many reasons that we do it!

Joy Stephens

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