Thinking about food systems when disaster strikes

The recent storms, flooding, and wildfires force us to think about the health of our food system.

When Hurricane Harvey caused extreme flooding in southeast Texas, news reports started focusing on the 1.2 million head of beef cattle impacted by the storm. Several national beef market experts have reported that they do not believe the potential loss of most of these cattle will dramatically impact the nation’s beef supply; however, beef prices have risen in recent weeks. Texas is the nation’s leading producer of beef cattle.

Out west, an estimated 1.5 million of acres have been impacted by recent wildfires and extreme drought. This affects beef cattle ranches as well as the feed supply. In the south, experts believe that Hurricane Irma damaged 50-60 percent of the Florida orange crop in some locations.

These events prompt us to think about the security of our food supply and how we can be better prepared at home if an emergency were to impact our state. We are fortunate to live in one of the most agriculturally diverse areas. Michigan produces a wide variety of crops from dairy to apples and pork to peaches. September and October are prime harvest months. Now is the time to stock up on locally produced fruit, vegetables as well as meats for the winter months, when severe weather can make life more challenging. Stocking up now may also save you money in the long-term. Produce is usually the cheapest during its harvest season when supplies are more abundant.

If preserving food or purchasing meat for the freezer is new to you, Michigan State University Extension has a wide variety of articles that can help, including:

September is also National Preparedness Month. Ready.govhas all kinds of tips and toolkits to talk with your family members. Toolkits for creating a plan for evacuation, family communication and emergency shelter are available online.

MSU Extension encourages you to take some time and talk with your family members today about your food needs for the upcoming months and how you can be better prepared for an emergency. 

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