Hungry?

Did you know there’s a “USA Rice President?” Neither did I. But I bet she’s not nearly as noxious as the USA Vice Presidents.

At any rate, Rice President Betsy Ward advises, “If you see depleted rice shelves in your local grocery store, it is not a supply problem; it is a signifier of changing logistics in the retail market…”

I have no idea what that means. But like many of you, I love food. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say it’s indispensable, given that eating is among my favorite pastimes. I’d miss an appointment with Gabriel himself sooner than I would a meal.

That’s why the Rice President’s jargon raised my hackles. So do the shenanigans at grocery stores, where empty shelves replace the former abundance and obstructions block entrances, herding us into lines for admittance.

Sodium Bicarbonate: Na... Mark Sircus Best Price: $7.25 Buy New $10.32 (as of 10:37 EST - Details) Equally distressing, supermarkets’ personnel have degenerated into Nazi Nannies who vie with Our Rulers in patronizing and bossing us. To cite one instance among many, Giant Eagle’s Laura Shapira Karet warns that she’s “[s]tressing to all Team Members and guests the importance of taking preventative measures outlined by the CDC”—that bastion of sparkling advice and pure motives—”particularly the need for anyone not feeling well to avoid visiting our supermarkets and GetGo locations.” Pssst, Laura: that’s no way to treat guests. Your job is to keep the boxes of cornflakes and mounds of oranges towering overhead; I’ll decide whether I’m up to the increasingly arduous task of shopping.

Worse, Laura’s “limiting the number of customers in a store at one time to ensure proper social distancing measures are taken. The new maximum occupancy will be posted near all supermarket and GetGo entrances.” The first time Laura compels me to stand in line to spend my hard-earned bucks in her emporium will be the last time I visit Giant Eagle.

As if these horrors aren’t enough, “[o]ne-way directional signage will be added on the floor in each aisle of our supermarkets to indicate the flow of traffic and help guests maintain social distance.” Here’s hoping all “guests” go up the down aisle.

Why is Laura wasting time on such nonsense? Shouldn’t she be busy ensuring an adequate amount of TP? I still marvel at the run on this necessity. As I scurried from market to bodega to convenience store in quest of a roll, I empathized with the victims of communist countries: all those empty shelves and all those hours wasted on securing a basic item. Meanwhile, if the world’s ending, why hoard TP? Chocolate, a good hunk of Parmesan, boxes of pasta, fresh garlic—I’d have understood shortages of these. But TP? Mustn’t we eat before we need said paper?

Still, that scarcity sparked fears that such essentials as butter, chocolate chips, heavy cream, and shrimp might suffer the same fate. And so I focused my redoubtable skills at research—the same skills that ferreted out the numbers of folks carrying C-virus worldwide (about 2 million as I write) as well as the world’s population (ca. 7.8 billion) to determine that, with a mere .00026% of humanity infected, this “pandemic” is the biggest hoax going—on the supply chain. How Not To Die With Tr... Henriques, Tiago Best Price: $18.23 Buy New $17.97 (as of 08:00 EST - Details)

Turns out that research involved more cooking than usual: a dear friend I’ll call “Jack” happened to email about then, asking if we’d like him and his truck to visit us for Easter. Ergo, I plied Jack with a home-cooked meal (after all, we couldn’t very well take him to a restaurant) in exchange for the inside scoop on his profession and my obsession: food.

Jack is an independent trucker who owns and drives a refrigerated tractor-trailer. He works with a “load finder” to locate manufacturers and farmers with product to ship, whether to a processing plant or from there to customers. That’s taught him about farms, slaughterhouses, manufacturers, and warehouses; Jack understands the steps that take a head of cauliflower or a heifer from field to supermarket.

Savvy, autonomous and self-reliant, Jack admires capitalism. He also ridicules this ginned-up “pandemic” as someone who survived his bout with smallpox–sorry, coronavirus. We had previously corresponded about 6 or 8 weeks ago, after his “self-quarantine” on the road ended: “… it’s a bad flu.  It is kind of disconcerting the first couple of nights struggling to breathe!  I was taking short breaths with a tight chest feeling.  My sinuses were running crazy.  I took Nyquil, which I don’t like, but I figured I’d do anything to sleep.  The third night brought the fever…[, which] broke … late that night.  The next afternoon, it returned.  By late that night I broke the 2nd fever.  After that I spent a couple more nights just resting, and staying in bed.  All in all, it’s a bad flu, especially for anyone with respiratory issues.” The worst symptom of all? “I think I was down to just a bowl of soup each day… I just didn’t feel like eating.” Dear Lord, preserve us from this plague!

Over Easter dinner, I asked Jack if his sufferings from coronavirus justified Our Rulers’ totalitarianism. He nigh shouted, “NO!

He also described the lunacy the State has inspired with its hysteria over C-virus: “Warehouses no longer allow truckers to use their employees’ bathroom.They’ve substituted porta-potties instead that are never cleaned. But coronavirus supposedly lives on plastic.” He shrugged eloquently.

I then sprang the question tormenting me. “Are we likely to go hungry? These dearths in the supermarkets: will they worsen?” The Healing Nutrients ... Eric R. Braverman Best Price: $2.00 Buy New $1.99 (as of 04:25 EST - Details)

I wish I could say he smiled. Rather, Jack expatiated on the magnificent system that keeps shelves fully stocked and second helpings on our plates—despite Our Rulers.

Jack emphasized that whether provender comes from the farm or the manufacturer to market, the “foodchain” is so meticulously timed and so speedy that it can’t tolerate any monkey wrenches. Grocers rely on inventory-based computer software that orders replacements when stockpiles plunge. Because this process is so tightly calibrated, shippers and freight brokers impatiently push drivers like Jack to transport their goods ASAP. Jack cited chicken-processing plants as an example: live chickens enter at one end of the building while he’s parked on the other, loading packaged meat into his trailer.

Obviously, any fluctuations in the number of workers affect this complex coordination. And slowing the race to “flatten the curve” could destroy it.

Jack deplores the “shelter-in-place” orders and other edicts because of their effect on individuals and organizations in the foodchain. For manufacturers, farmers, or anyone employing more than 10 workers to maintain “social distance” on the job is often logistically impossible: those chicken-processing plants, for example, normally station workers shoulder-to-shoulder. And contrary to popular culture’s hatred of cold, ruthless managers, Jack worries that those he knows are so concerned about their workforce that they’ll close to protect it from coronavirus. Yet the delicate foodchain can’t sustain either delays or outright shut-downs.

If hunger does hit the US, Jack wonders whether the problem will be national since the states differ in their enforcement of “social distancing.” He speculates that some companies and farmers will shut down in terror of the virus while others will cease producing because of governmental threats. “Plus, social pressure to close is formidable on manufacturers.”

The Micronutrient Mira... Calton CN, Mira Best Price: $5.13 Buy New $12.95 (as of 04:55 EDT - Details) Shortages could also afflict us haphazardly because of the nature of various products. Ergo, we have plenty of chicken now but not blueberries: farmers need workers—usually migrants and the vilified “illegals”—to pick fruit. But not only has the United States partially closed its borders, the immigrants’ home countries have as well, leaving American crops to rot in the fields.

Jack noted that his end of things, transportation, is the stablest part of the equation. That’s because some of the larger companies (Sysco, US Foods, UNFI, and PFG) formerly delivered to restaurants. But with those customers gone, they’ve shifted to distributing groceries. Which crowds independent truckers like Jack, who’ve never made much money, out of the industry.

By now, we’d reached dessert. As we feasted on chocolate cake, I doubted that a bountiful table will bless us next Easter. After all, the sociopaths in office have already starved us spiritually; why not physically as well?

The only question is whether they’ll do so through incompetence, ignorance—or outright malevolence.