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By Staff | Jan 30, 2015

It’s hard to believe that this week the residents of New York City have the same problem as the residents of Caracas, Venezuela, but they do.

In preparation of a major snow storm, New York City residents have raided their grocery stores emptying shelves of many of the food items.

Caracas, Venezuela also has empty shelves at their grocery stores and people are waiting in long lines to buy basic items including toilet paper and diapers.

Pictures of lines blocks long can be seen on Twitter,

The empty shelves in New York City are a temporary problem as once roads are cleared, delivery trucks will be hauling everything needed to fill the shelves once again.

The problem in Caracas is longer term as food is in such shortage, delivery trucks are being held up before reaching the store from reports I have read on Twitter.

Venezuela’s problems are much more severe and will not improve until its government realizes that a healthy dose of free enterprise is needed.

It is easy to take our readily available supply of food for granted.

When I first heard of the New York City panic buying, I thought how the New York City residents don’t understand how dependent they are on our food supply from growing to processing to transportation and distribution.

Reaching into a cooler for a gallon of milk or a dozen eggs has never been a problem so why should anyone even think about it?

My disdain for the New Yorker’s complacent attitude changed when I realized they represent a very large market for all things agricultural and it is in my interest to make sure they have all the necessities they want, creating a demand for my products.

My corn and soybeans go towards supplying the system that feeds the cattle, hogs, and chickens that provide the milk, beef, pork, poultry and eggs.

I thought about this as I was enjoying our annual January treat of fresh grapefruit. That makes me a consumer on the receiving end of the grapefruit supply chain.

All I can tell you is that our grapefruit comes from Florida or Texas. I have no idea how they reached any of the grocery stores where we buy them.

Somewhere in Texas and Florida, someone tended their grapefruit trees, harvested them, boxed and shipped them, eventually ending up in a store’s produce section where my wife or I carefully looked over the selection, then purchased the ones that looked and felt right.

January is not one of my favorite months as it is too dark and too cold and usually too snowy.

My morning grapefruit is one of the best parts of January. I don’t even need sugar to enjoy it.

We have an amazing food growing, processing, transportation, and distribution system, whether it is milk and eggs in New York City or fresh Florida and Texas grapefruit enjoyed in Iowa.

We walk in the grocery store, find a cart if our list is long, and then peruse each aisle looking at full shelves holding more choices than we can imagine.

It isn’t until there are empty shelves that we will actually appreciate what has always been there, seemingly with such little effort.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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