What will the new normal look like for food?

We will never get back to normal. Too much is changing. While no one really knows how long the pandemic battle will last and what the toll on human lives and the economy will ultimately be, you can’t help but wonder what the new normal will look like.

It’s natural to question when personal restrictions will be lifted and businesses can reopen. Expect it to take longer than many armchair quarterbacks believe. We will be seeding during a pandemic and many of the same restrictions could still be in place by the time harvest rolls around.

History will show most governments were slow to react. As you compare the approach in countries around the world, the ones that acted quickly and decisively did flatten the curve. With the lesson learned, governments will only gradually ease restrictions.

Once the pandemic is finally burning out in developed nations, it could still be raging in much of the developing world. Reported numbers have remained low in many African nations and even India, but a lack of testing may be giving a false picture of the reality.

Here in Canada, we’re upset if our local grocery store is temporarily out of yoghurt. More serious shortages could emerge in the weeks ahead if supply chains for pork and beef are sufficiently disrupted, but so far food supply isn’t a big problem.

In poor countries, food security issues will loom much larger. Millions could face starvation.

Currently, we’re so wrapped up in our own problems that not much attention is paid to countries where an unfathomable humanitarian crises could be emerging.

When the new normal finally arrives, will consumers look at food the same way? Perhaps there will be a greater appreciation for the unsung heroes of the value chain including truckers and all the way back to farmers.

Perhaps there will be less patience for people who block train tracks and sabotage the economy for their own pet peeves. If nothing else, the pandemic is showing us that the needs of the many outweigh the opposition of the few.

Perhaps there will be less nonsensical apprehension over GM crops and the advancing technologies of gene editing. If the vaccine that finally crushes COVID-19 is derived from some form of genetic modification, everyone will still want it injected into their body.

As the world wrestles with the virus, and it really is a worldwide fight, the global façade of fighting climate change has taken a back seat. Attention had been focused on the wrong catastrophe.

The warnings over global warming go back 30 plus years. We were all supposed to have burned up or flooded over by now. Ironically, the pandemic will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions this year and perhaps for many years to come.

Unfortunately, that won’t satisfy the zealots already messaging about using the economic reset to rebuild with renewable energy. If Canada takes that approach, we’ll be an economic basket case.

While renewable energy should be pursued, fossil fuels will continue to dominate for decades. Perhaps the climate change obsession will gain some much needed perspective. Perhaps the general public will realize the folly of restricting the exports of our oil and natural gas.

As much as we wish for it, normal will not return. A new normal may be as much as a year away and it will be shaped by events we can’t yet foresee.

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