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The Daily Tonic: "Why we ran out of toilet paper."

Posted By: hobie
Date: Saturday, 22-May-2021 05:23:20
www.rumormill.news/172863

Received via e-mail from readdailytonic.com

=====

Efficiency At All Costs

Honestly I think we ran out of toilet paper because we all freaked out and started hoarding unnecessary amounts of it. For some reason, rolls of TP seemed to be the most essential supply to have during a global pandemic. So strange.

Anyway, this article from the Washington Post written by Michael Pollan explains that hoarding was not 100% to blame.

You see, there are two supply chains that deliver toilet paper. There is the supply chain that delivers your favorite double ply, cushy stuff to supermarkets and there is a completely different supply chain that delivers that bulk, sand paper-like stuff to schools, stadiums, and other institutions.

With all of those institutions closed down early in the pandemic, it would have made sense to simply reroute that supply chain to have all that bulk TP hit grocery stores to appease panicked hoarders. But we did not do that. We couldn’t do that. The supply chains were too specialized and focused on efficiency, which made them rigid and unable to pivot.

Ok—so how does this all relate to health? Well, the same way the toilet paper supply chain broke down early in the pandemic, so did our food supply chain. The system was incredibly specialized and efficient, but that made it not resilient enough to adapt during a crisis.

This is why you had dairy farmers dumping milk and other farmers burying crops during Spring of last year. This supply chain was also too specialized, focused on delivering food to institutions in the most efficient way possible. As a result, the system just wasn’t resilient enough to take that food and reroute it to grocery stores, where shelves sat empty. Tragically, all that food went to waste.

The point that Pollan hammers home in the article is that diversity creates resilience, and resilience is a strength that we often overlook for the sake of efficiency.

One of the positives that came out of last year was that many consumers realized that local farms and food producers that were detached from this hyper efficient food supply chain are great alternatives. They produce healthier food and are more resilient in times of crisis.

The other point Pollan brings up is how detached every step of the conventional food chain is from the end consumer. Why does that matter? Well, the more detached producers are from the fact that they produce food for humans, the less care goes into that process.

This is why food borne illness is such a common concern when dealing with meat and eggs that come from huge conventional operations. No one on those assembly lines is thinking about the end consumer that will eventually consume their products. Everyone involved is just a cog in the machine.

But when a local farmer sells his food within his or her own community, the motivation to go above and beyond as it relates to food safety and quality is incredibly high. These local farmers are constantly reminded of exactly who it is they are feeding with their labor, and that holds the system accountable without the need for heavy government regulations.

The solution? Pandemic or not—eat local. That may not be completely doable depending on where you live, but we can all make an effort to find our local farmer’s market and do a little research on how we can start to remove ourselves from the food supply chain so focused on efficiency that it forgets about everything else.

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