Press Herald speaks with Carter about turning to local food during pandemic

The Portland Press Herald spoke with Hannah Carter, dean of University of Maine Cooperative Extension, about turning to local food to fill supply chain gaps during the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. national food system is under strain that has been exposed by the pandemic, including producers being undervalued because Americans generally believe food should be cheap. And that results from farmers not being paid fairly for their work, according to the article. Finding labor “is a struggle as individuals can now make ‘more’ on unemployment (benefits) than they can (earn while) working, so some employees have left farming operations,” said Carter. Since the start of the pandemic, farmers, fishermen and food producers have switched gears and sold their products directly to consumers. Carter mentioned the Maine Farms and Seafood Products Directory, an online listing of more than 400 Maine food producers who have set up direct sales operations. The future of Maine’s food industry depends on consumer demand for locally sourced food. “Will consumers remember the relationships they established with their local farmer and continue to make it a priority to purchase from them?” Carter asked.