Why Supporting the Local Food Scene Should be a Priority during a Global Pandemic (and All Year Round)

Posted On April 25, 2020

While the issue of businesses suffering during a pandemic is inevitable, one must not deny the issue in application to the agricultural industry, especially when taking into consideration the size of our islands. During a period of such doubt and uncertainty, it is easy to get caught up in the midst of self and/or socially imposed struggle, that may affect not only our ability to take care of our own health, but also the health of those dearest to us.

One way to encouragingly and effectively sustain one’s health and general well-being is through first hand nutrition.

Whilst it may be tempting and appealing to rely heavily or even solely on non-perishable goods for the sake of convenience, this does not necessarily have to be the case. Whilst many businesses are faced with the issue of declining sales, many are coming up with new methods to make ends meet, in an efficient, sustainable and customer-friendly way.

The local food scene is something that I believe to be highly underrated, and the bountiful selection of seasonal produce our islands have to offer is something I find to be continuously disregarded of its potential. Food heritage is a concept deeply engrained into many cultural aspects of our being. Many agriculturalists are enabling Maltese citizens to have access to this from the comfort of their own homes, which I believe is significantly relevant to dietary well-being, and simultaneously reciprocates benefit to the producers themselves.

Delivery services have become a major source of income to many producers during this time, but has further been beneficial to educating the public as to why supporting the local food scene is in fact so effective at enabling our food-related ecology to flourish. By simply educating oneself as to what produce is seasonal at different times of the year, this enables a consumer to not only contribute to the success of local businesses, but additionally to prioritize one’s health, as well as possibly improve one’s skills in the kitchen.

For instance, it being April at the moment, it is a rather well-known fact amongst the Maltese that the humble broad bean is in season within our islands. The benefit of consuming local and seasonal produce is something we’ve all been preached to about, but is definitely not practiced enough amongst as it should be amongst us Maltese.

A shift between linear mass production to local economic circulation is becoming impossible to avoid, and is drastically changing our approach to food. Many EU academics are even calling for new policies to be implicated, as a form of encouragement towards this ‘farm-to-fork’ approach. A time such as this can easily be linked to previous times of struggle, thereby encouraging us to return to these culturally-embedded practices of simplifying our dietary choices, based around lessening the need for food importation and transportation.

Prolonged promotion of food sustainability and seasonality will have great impacts on our perception of food production, distribution and security, as well as improve our consumption patterns. This will also help to tackle the largely problematic issue of food waste, and enable us to improve our dietary habits. Human behavior is immensely effective on how policies change in the context of food sustainability. Our choices and therefore our actions are what make up the heavy demand for extended surplus of local food distribution.

As an unintentional sufferer of the global pandemic, food sustainability may be the last thing on many of our minds, which is why it is critical to prevent the issue from getting swept under the carpet. Government intervention must be aimed at the concern of both land and marine environments, to equalize the possibility of participation in maintaining the gradual progression of local food sustainability. 

Written by Nicole Borg

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