Though the current supply chain economic contingency in Oz could have been planned for months ago...a highly infectious variant of Covid-19, Omicron, beat AdBlue shortages to it - empty
supermarket shelves started appearing in the second week of January in Oz as Omicron took hold of the economy. Food supply chains are under threat everywhere now due to staff falling ill to
Covid-19 or self-isolating due to the new 'close contact' rule we have in place (which in my mind is too limited anyway).
So, we have a food supply chain for supermarkets:
food production (growing, harvesting, processing)->transport-> warehouses->supermarkets.
In some trucking companies, only 50% of truckies are on board and allowed to work - their Union doesn't want 'close contact' exemptions for 'essential workers' (see REFERENCES). In warehouses,
the Union cautiously wants the exemptions but wants to 'risk mitigate' (or 'risk manage') - which could be the best approach across the supply chain. In supermarkets, exemptions for retail
workers are not wanted. Maybe a software approach for 'risk management' without breaking WHS regulations could be used for greater business certainty in the context of COVID-19, such as FoodLogiQ
used by 'Whole Foods Market' (see REFERENCES). Reusable COVID-19 test kits (if they could be built) could be deployed to each link of the supply chain (see the blog 'COVID-19 testing idea')
and used for symptomatic workers - it would possibly be overreach to do random testing keeping in mind people can be asymptomatic and still pass on the virus or even worse - testing everyone at
the start of a shift. Would it be unethical to test for COVID-19 at Oz workplaces (or any workplaces)? I don't have legal training, but I see potential WHS lawsuits/legal quandary for
workplace COVID-19 testing and asking potentially infected 'asymptomatic' workers/people to 'voluntarily' go to work - no pressure! It's not an easy one to manage uncertainty in an emergency -
especially if the law takes time to change.
So, what do you do? What should anyone do? Grow microgreens eg.wheatgrass (see 'Microgreens' page)? Drink and be merry eg.homebrew (assuming those supply chains don't buckle as well)? I don't
know. Maybe time to get back to the seasons with seasonal market produce from indy growers but even the seasons are changing with climate change - time to go 'Carbon negative'. Perhaps it's time
to go down the energy descent pathway aptly described by David Holmgren in "Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability" (2002) and do a bit of the ol' "RetroSuburbia"(2018)?We
can always reneg food export contracts if we have to - but I doubt any farmer would be happy to do it. It's a great time to start localising the food system Permaculture style - start with the
self (Zone 0)->household (Zone 1) and work outwards... It's possibly the best security (other than vaccinating) you will ever have during COVID-19 and beyond.
Maybe there will be enough AdBlue after all (see the blog 'AdBlue - A coming crisis?') since there will be less trucks on the road? Just not enough fresh food - or worse - essentials too. And
that's just supermarkets..but - I don't think many of us, or even any of us are going to starve in Oz. Supermarket culture is here to stay so we might as well 'get the right balance' with WHS and
build a new food system outside of the main food system supply chains as an insurance policy, the way we want it for the future.
Somehow, we need to find a balance to live with the virus but not allow it to destroy our morale, WHS regulations, workers rights and supply chains which most of us have become so dependent on.
- Essential worker list in Oz: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-13/national-cabinet-workers-covid-isolation-exemption-expanded/100753788