The past two years have been big. 2020 and 2021 are considered as one of the gloomiest periods in recent Australian history.
We suffered from various structural disruptions to our food system including the black summer 2019/20 bushfires and subsequent smoke haze. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit with long periods of lockdown and mandatory restrictions.
Although we're accustomed to bushfires, the repercussions of last year's bushfires are far worse compared to previous years. We lost a considerable amount of agricultural produce and biodiversity, as shown in the mainstream media with pictures of dead cattle or land in flames.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened.
When you think about the first time you heard about this unknown virus from China, we never thought it was going to last for such a long period.
During the early days of the pandemic, the scenario was chaotic and bizarre among consumers and food suppliers.
People started to panic buy and were anxious about food shortages due to border closures, transportation issues and food supply chain disruptions.
The government and the supermarkets implemented mandatory regulations such as contact tracing, infection controls and limits to the amount of certain foods and products.
As time progressed, we got used to these radical changes in our food system, and we evolved.
Canberrans visited their local shops more frequently. They relied more on their local neighbourhood stores, which played a vital role in reducing food scarcities, and they stayed open throughout the pandemic period.
People preferred to visit their local shops rather than major shopping malls because they did not want to visit larger exposure sites and increase the risk of quarantine.
Some vulnerable people among us suffered severely from these impacts of the pandemic, including people with disabilities, elderly and university students who were away from home and with limited income.
A recent study conducted by the University of Canberra has shown that our local food system has been affected considerably by the pandemic.
As a part of this local food system study, we are looking for local shop owners and managers across the ACT region.
To help, contact email@example.com (or 0475 614 047) to participate in this study and strengthen our local food system.
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