Culinary Sleuth

What's for Dinner?
A Year 2000 Dilemma

by Lynn Kerrigan


Year 2000 Dilemma  
By now, you've heard about the potential problems that may occur when the clock rolls into the year 2000. What is reality? Are there really going to be massive power outages, food shortages and bank failures?

There are two extreme types of Y2K thinkers. Those that scoff at any mention of "food/water shortage" and those who hoard supplies, buy guns or think the world is going to end. The "chicken littles" may seem too gung-ho, but they'll probably be in a better position to survive any disaster that occurs.

We need only look to the ice storms that raged across parts of the country last winter to understand how a mere two-day power outage affected entire communities. People sought shelter in schools and bedded down on army cots because their own homes were inhabitable without heat or electricity. Fortunately, disasters like ice storms, floods and hurricanes call out emergency response teams to help communities cope and survive. But, a nationwide emergency—like food and water shortages—could leave many communities stranded.

The Gartner Group, a well respected, private research firm, presented a report to the U.S. Department of Agriculture which states, "The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has concerns about the Year 2000 (Y2K) remediation project efforts in the various supply chain firms/entities/organizations which comprise the nation's food supply." The report ranks the level of year 2000 remediation project efforts of the various "topics" in five levels. Level V is "Fully Compliant." Level IV is "Operational Sustainability," meaning the organization can survive the year 2000 threat. The list of topics includes beef, pork, milk, vegetables, fish, seed, fertilizer, General-Line Grocery Wholesalers and more. The report shows no area of food production or distribution rated past Level III, the planning/beginning remediation stage. This, alone, threatens our food supply. In addition, the report states, "Little mention of embedded systems is made." The failure of embedded systems in processing plants can cause the plants to shut down.

Obviously, we cannot all "run for the hills" as some are doing. Realistically we cannot quit our jobs and move to safer communities either. The average person will probably continue with daily life until the final hour...but a responsible person will prepare, at least minimally, with food and water.

The key word is "prepare." Panic buying only increases the likelihood of shortages so it's best for the overall community to start buying a little extra food now than to rush to the store at the eleventh hour. It's better to go to Wal-Mart and buy a couple oil lamps now while the supply is still plentiful than to rush out when the shelves are picked clean. Levelheaded preparedness is a sane and balanced course.


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Copyright © 1998-2001, Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.

This page created September 1999

This page modified February 2007