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As uncertainties grow about the food supply chain, we are reminded again why it is good to live in the heartland, where hardworking men and women are raising animals and growing fruit and vegetables to feed the country. Thanks to a Facebook page titled Shop Kansas Farms, more than 105,000 Kansans are directly connecting with local food producers to purchase their goods.
The rapidly growing Facebook page was started by Rick McNary, of Potwin, Kan., who said he developed the page "to connect you to the wonderful farm and ranch families of Kansas so you can purchase meat, dairy, veggies and other homegrown products for human consumption right from the people who grow it!"
The disruption of the food supply chain because of the coronavirus has compromised the readily available food supply we have come to rely on in our grocery stores. Faced with empty shelves where varieties of meat, eggs, milk and produce used to be, Kansans are looking for food to feed their families. McNary’s page offers a solution.
It has been a gift to farmers. Many have shared that increases in direct-to-consumer sales have been a lifeline to their farming operation. The butchers processing the meat are seeing demand they haven’t seen in years. In fact, posts from the page indicate finding a butcher to process meat in the near future is an unlikely prospect.
Discovering locally grown food to purchase isn’t the only benefit of the page. It also has become a place to learn more about the food we eat — how it is priced, the process involved to bring it to your plate, and the types of animal you should buy to get the kinds of beef you prefer to eat.
If there is a silver lining to the coronoavirus, the connection of consumers to their local food providers is one of those benefits.
We don’t know how long the food supply chain will be disrupted. But we do know Kansas farmers have long raised food for their own families and the broader community. It has been a difficult job for a variety of reasons.
As things "return to normal," let’s not forget our food producers across the state who are selling us their products today. Now that Kansans are discovering the bounty of food found among our rural roadways, we hope we continue to see growth in the local food trade, improving the livelihood of our farmers and the small Kansas communities where many reside.
There is plenty to buy in our chain grocery stores, but if you trust the comments on the Facebook page, the meat and vegetables you are buying direct from the farm have a lot better taste, and you have the benefit of knowing the person who raised the products.
Kudos to McNary and the volunteers helping organize the page. A movement to locally sourced food is good for all of us.