Warm summer months are our cue to fire up the grill. The pandemic illuminated harsh working conditions that too many workers face in the conventional meat processing and packing industry. In response, co-op shoppers can support Community Foods producers like Kadejan and Blooming Prairie, while also trying new and emerging ones like Tree Range Farm. Purchases from these producers keeps money circulating in the local economy and strengthens local, small-scale businesses that support, rather than exploit human and natural resources. At Seward Co-op, you can learn more about producers who raise local livestock.
The pandemic has shocked the meat industry on a global scale. Hundreds of thousands of livestock were euthanized when many of the country’s largest processors and packers shut down without a place to take animals for processing. Those closures exposed the terrible working conditions in conventional meat plants and put pressure on small-scale, local meat processors to fill the gaps. Not only were workers subject to high noise levels, dangerous equipment, and wet floors; these facilities were set up for efficiency rather than social distancing. This, compounded with a CDC-recommended personal protective equipment shortage, led to significant labor and supply disruptions.