It felt- inappropriate, to be honest- to even consider using the concept of “knowing where your food comes from” and reduced risk of buying direct from the source as a marketing tool to portray the value of WhatsGood delivery during this time of uncertainty and fear, despite the encouragement we’ve received by several of our customers, vendors, and other acquaintances to do so. Last night I was informed by one of our long-time farmers that farmers markets are being shutdown due to COVID-19.
On what basis? Are the grocery stores closing? How will everyone eat? And what are local farmers supposed to do with all of their food?
I suppose the food that gets to the grocery store, that comes from places thousands of miles away, going through distributor after distributor… which can change hands as many as 6 times before it gets to a warehouse… before someone sorts, picks, and packs it… is a safer option? Oh, don’t forget the stocking clerks, cashiers at check out, and then, the bagger (if applicable), all touching it too. Unless of course you opt for self serve check out, which means one less human touching your food (hooray!), but yet one more thing for you to touch that dozens of other people that day have already put their hands on that day.
So the sales channels with the longest distribution lines and the most amount of hands touching every product are still safe. The enormous volume of consumers in Walmart on any given afternoon are ok, but the 500 neighbors who attend the farmers markets are a greater risk? Not to mention the food itself… buying directly from a farmer, is a way to minimize your risk against exposure to COVID-19, and I don’t need Johns Hopkins to do a study on that.
Yet here we are: Farmers Markets encouraged to shut down, while grocery stores can remain open, as if a gathering of farmers to sell product to their neighbors is some sort of luxury, unnecessary public “event”. I don’t know who is making these decisions, and frankly, I don’t really care. Anyone who knows our Co-founders Matt, Will, and me understand that we don’t get wrapped up in politics or finger pointing and despite our model, have always encouraged people to attend farmers markets and support their local food producers however they can. Bottom line is, you still have to eat. And if right now you don’t see how the localization of our food system, may be the only way to survive through this (and future events like it) globally, I don’t know what will.
We’re proud to be equipping farmers with the same tools and resources that big industrial chains can offer, especially in bad weather, busy seasons, and now during a pandemic. Online ordering and delivery is nothing new, but still an extremely challenging and often impossible operation for farmers to set up and manage on their own. We’ve fine tuned our model and aggregation to give consumers the most convenience to purchase from as many as 40+ local food producers in one region, with one easy checkout and delivery.
How many people have touched the food on the shelves of your local grocer? Anyone know exactly? Me either. But it’s a lot. A lot more than your farmer who picks it (who is often the same person transporting it same-day to our aggregation site), the packer at aggregation, and our delivery driver (who touches only the outside of your bag). Three, four max. Four people in the supply chain from ground to your home in our WhatsGood delivery program. Plus, you don’t have to enter the grocery store where it’s an open door (literally) for anyone to walk in and breathe, sneeze, or cough all over everything.
Furthermore, being fueled with fresh, nutrient dense food, grown by farmers you know and trust, gives your body the best chance to fight off any illness. Those processed bags of doritos with you on the couch are not going to help you fight off any germs you’ve picked up. Choose local, fresh food.
I’ll leave you with the quote that the aforementioned farmer closed our conversation with tonight. I referenced the need for farmers markets to adopt technology for ordering and pickup/delivery (for various other reasons as well), and her reply was:
“Yes thanks to you and yours I hopefully can weather this storm!!!!”
Thanks, Martha. It’s truly an honor to serve you and our local food community.
Because of our passion for her, all of our farmers, and all of you, we’ll continue to show up for each of you, taking extra care of precautions**, unless/until we are mandated to shut down. (Then it’s time to get creative… 😉 )
Thanks for your continued support,
Co-Founder and Fellow Local Food Lover <3
**We will be shifting away from our orange reusable totes (which are always sanitized before returning to duty anyway) until the threat of COVID-19 has subsided and things normalize. We are also happy to accommodate special requests for delivery during these times and would prefer no-contact delivery with our drivers. Packers and Drivers will follow a strict protocol of using latex gloves and sanitization processes while handling your order. If in the unfortunate circumstance that you or a household member become quarantined, we ask that you let us know and leave a cooler outside to receive your food. Under no circumstances will our drivers enter your home or make physical contact with you or a family member.