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Issues Of The Environment: Washtenaw’s Food Network Provides Resilience During Times Of Crisis

Argus Farm Stop

Many services have felt the sting of the coronavirus outbreak.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," Kathy Sample, founder/owner of Argus Farm Stop, joins WEMU's David Fair for a conversation about the importance of local food during this unprecendented time.


  • 99.7% of food in the US is purchased indirectly from producers.
  • Food travels long distances from farm to table – on average 1,500 miles.
  • The current food system is dependent on high levels of fossil fuels and is vulnerable to climate change, oil shortages and other disruptions. 
  • 0.3% of food is purchased directly from producers through channels, such as farmers' markets and CSAs.
  • Direct connections between farmers and consumers.
  • Higher margins for farms.
  • Limited by weather, seasonality and lack of convenience.

How local food businesses play into protection against weaknesses in the supply chain

  • We have been working on building a resilient food system for many years here in Washtenaw County.  
  • Argus Farm Stop’s model brings another option for the small farmer where they own the goods and receive 75% of the sales.
  • This COVID crisis has shown us how many people like to know who is growing their food.  
  • People are beginning to realize that the freshest food comes from local farms, and that our food system is in trouble.
  • Customer and farmer feedback over this past week in particular makes us sure that we are doing a service here to keep our food system even more resilient and that we have something special here.
  • We hope to continue to modify/flex our business to meet the challenges of this COVID crisis.
  • The connection between the farmers and the consumers has never been more evident to us than lately.

Take Away Messages

  • A vibrant local food economy is a crucial part of a well functioning local community.
  • The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of industrial agriculture, where food is produced far away from where it is consumed, and economics are stacked impossibly against small-medium sized farms.
  • The industrial model favors huge stores selling food from huge, distant producers.  This is putting our communities and local food systems at great risk.
  • Innovative approaches are needed to making shopping local easier in ways that economically sustains farms.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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