What would happen if national supply chains were interrupted? Can the North Country feed itself?

ABC50 NOW

(WWTI) – The public’s response to the emergence of COVID-19 temporarily left many supermarket shelves bare and some consumers thinking about the availability of local foods.

According to Cornell Cooperative Extension, national supply chains presently remain fully intact and there is no threat to transportation systems.

What would happen if national supply chains or transportation were interrupted? Can the North Country feed itself?

Research has shown that routine food safety practices, such as the use of gloves and pasteurization, are sufficient to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The USDA remains committed to ensuring that food safety inspections continue at slaughterhouses and processing plants nationwide.

Could someone catch the virus from the surfaces of food packaging?

Studies have shown that the virus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and 24 hours on cardboard. Warehousing and transportation times further increase the amount of time between production and usage, typically longer than 72 hours for most products. 

If a disease carrier handles a packaged product in a grocery store, the virus could be transmitted if contact is made within such time frames. Individuals should refrain from touching their faces and wash their hands after handling goods.

Because food is considered essential, New York State currently has no plans to shutter farmer’s markets. Cornell Cooperative Extension and other agencies are working with vendors to ensure food safety practices are being administered and the same hygiene practices being used in grocery stores are being adhered to.

Local produce growers are already planting their spring crops and many have stored crops from 2019 available. Many local orchards still have apples in cold storage from last year. A list of local producers can be found here.

There are several people raising local beef, lamb and poultry in the North Country. Consumers interested in purchasing meat from local farmers can check the Meat Suite website to find a farm near them.

According to CCE, the local dairy industry is in a good position to continue providing quality products throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many local wineries are putting systems in place that allow you to shop while minimizing contact and practicing social distancing.  Some are allowing customers to order bottles online and pick them up at the vineyard from the convenience of their car, avoiding the need to handle cash or enter the store.

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