One of the effects of the “pandemic” that still lingers years later are the now all too common shortages of random consumer goods. The most notable at least for me were toilet paper and ammunition, although I had plenty of both. The shortages were startling to most Americans as we haven’t really experienced anything but abundance for decades. Anything you want, as much as you want was the name of the game. Live in Minnesota but want fresh fruits and vegetables in February? No problem, you could get them and they were cheap. With the rapid expansion of Amazon and competitors, you could get virtually anything in the world delivered quickly and often free, right to your doorstep. Hell, you can even pay someone to bring you Taco Bell.
Then 2020 happened and suddenly you went to stores and the toilet paper was gone. So was bottled water, and paper towels. Most canned goods were scarce and purchase quantities were limited. Fresh meat, especially it seemed chicken, was often out as well or limited. It was common to go to big box stores like Sam’s Club or Costco and see entire sections of the store wiped out. Several times I went to Sam’s and the whole back corner of the club where paper products and bottled water are kept was just row after row of empty racks.
We all lived it so this isn’t news to you, nor is it news that right now the big shortage is eggs. Again using Sam’s and Costco as my example, not only are the prices out of control but the coolers where eggs are kept are often thinly stocked or empty. What the hell happened?
Well in part Avian flu happened. Joel Salatin talks about it and one thing he said really resonated. Around 58 million chickens have been euthanized and he estimates that at best, 3 million birds were actually positive for Avian flu but the response is always scorched earth, kill ’em all and start over.
The good news for egg aficionados is that chickens have a very rapid turn-around time for replenishment. If you lose a bunch of cattle it can take years to replace them but chickens are hatched and laying eggs in just a few months. So the shortage should coming to an end fairly soon, although I doubt egg prices will get back where they were pre-Avian flu much less pre-pandemic when I remember buying eggs for under a buck a dozen.
The bigger issue is what he says at the end. Why are millions of chickens (and this happens with hogs to an extent) being slaughtered like that? The reason is simple: there are too many chickens crammed into laying house so when disease gets in, it spreads like wildfire. Those “cage free” eggs in the store? That is bullshit. They aren’t in cages but tens of thousands of birds in laying houses are still ripe for disease and while they can “go outside”, they still spend most of their life packed into those buildings.
We have our own laying hens, although their production can be a little unreliable so I still get eggs from the store. I am planning on adding to the flock with dedicated layers to help stabilize that production but not everyone can do that. It is yet another reminder that our food system is incredibly fragile and it wouldn’t take much to make it fall apart.
Don’t wait for the next “pandemic” to figure out how to feed your family if the food chain snaps.