Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Hurricane Sandy Hurts Small Farms, Halts Food Distribution

A year after Hurricane Irene devastated northeastern food distribution networks, Hurricane Sandy redoubled the damage.

Under a grey sky, a road is covered with debris from the storm.

Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region (Flickr)

Hurricane Sandy has rendered many northeastern roads impassable due to flooding, damage or debris, slowing or halting the distribution of food and resources in many regions.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s devastating journey through New England, farmers and foodies are beginning to take stock of its impact on food production and distribution in the area.

Many of the farmers and distributors to have suffered damage from the storm also bore the brunt of Hurricane Irene‘s damage around the same time in 2011.

Hurricane Sandy devastated farmland in Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba before making landfall in the American Northeast.

Stalled Food Distribution

Roads damaged by Hurricane Sandy have stranded truckloads of food in storage and on curbsides throughout the region.

This poses no immediate threat to the shelves of most grocery stores which typically keep one to two weeks worth of stock in on-site storage.

It does, however, pose a threat to their refrigerator sections: perishable food will only last a few days at room temperature.

City officials have been quick to remind citizens that price-gouging — wherein vendors raise prices on necessities during emergency situations to profit from disaster — is illegal.

(No) Power To The Chickens

Ranchers and other livestock farmers have, for the most part, been hit harder than crop farmers because the storm struck after the end of the major growing season.

Chicken farms rely on heated coops to keep their flocks healthy and laying eggs. Most chicken farmers should have back-up generators to keep them safe for a few days or weeks, but they still stand to suffer from feed shortages brought about by the closed roads.

Limited access to gasoline also has profound impact on farmers of all kinds, as it restricts their ability to travel to access the supplies they need.

Bye-Bye, Brooklyn Bees

At the Brooklyn Grange’s Navy Yard, Hurricane Sand destroyed twenty-five beehives, each containing about 40,000 bees. Ten hives located in a different part of the yard survived.

The Brooklyn Grange had been breeding the bees in the hope of developing a strain that could survive in New York City. Eventually, they planned not only to produce apiary products for sale, but also to provide bees to other local beekeepers.

Despite the loss, the farmers remain committed to rebuilding the project from their surviving hives.

USDA: “Record All Losses”

The USDA is urging all farmers to record all losses resulting from the hurricane.

Since a new Farm Bill has yet to be passed, all emergency procedures are being handled per the 2008 version of the legislation.

Read More:

  • Sandy Wipes Out Biggest Beekeeping Operation In New York City (Grist)
  • New England Poultry Producers May See Impact From Sandy (Science Daily)
  • Hurricane Sandy Disrupts Food Distribution, ‘Thousands Of Trucks’ In Limbo (Huffington Post)
  • Farmers And Ranchers Urged To Record Losses From Hurricane Sandy (USDA)
Sarah Gordon

Sarah Gordon has been interested in food ethics since she was 15, learned about industrial slaughter, and launched into 10 years of vegetarianism. These days, she strives to be a conscientious omnivore. Now a PhD candidate in folklore, her research has caused her to spend a lot of time in the remote Canadian sub-arctic, where the lake trout (sustainably harvested) tastes amazing.

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