Monday, September 5, 2011

Dealing With Losses from Irene

Hurricane Irene wreaked havock on the NorthEast coast. I was very grateful that my aparment was unscathed and our losses would be minimal. My parents and in-laws had some small issues- downed trees that had to be cleared, loss of a fruit producing tree, loss of freezer food because of power outages for over four days - but everybody was healthy and safe. My coworkers had similar small losses. Thank G-d no one was hurt. Sure there were small costs and annoyances - but these are what emergency funds are for.

We just found out what our cost loss will be - our CSA farm has been forced to shut down the season despite having three months to go. Although they salvaged the crops and were hoping to continue the season the federal government has ruled that all farms affected by flooding should not be allowed to sell crops for fear of food safety. Since our farm is located near a river, which they frequently use for irrigation, they were flooded. Their crops are the unsellable and the season is over. We were having a great harvest and my heart goes to them now as this will certainly affect business for next year and they lose all their profits from green markets and the like. CSA is pay-ahead so they do not lose anything on the CSA shares, but members are now left with smaller gorcery budgets. It's the risk we take every year in order to support local, organic farming.

We'll make it this year, especially as I have gotten better at buying groceries for less but the loss will hurt. It makes us question whether we can afford the risk again next year. However, eating with the CSA forced us to consume so many vegetable, and at good prices, that I suspect we may renew again next year. Another disaster this large is unlikely. Although with farming you never know. That's the whole point.

I am also conflicted about the government ruling. I am very strong in support of food safety, but a blanket ruling like this seems unfair as it will hurt many farms and cause a lot of food waste. They are not inspecting farms to determine who is safe and who is not. Our farm, for instance was flooded with irrigation water. there is a high chance that if inspected no dangerous bacteria would be found. but that would not be cost effective so it is not being done and tons of food is going to waste. Alas. At least no one will be hurt by consuming unsafe crops.


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