April 16, 2020
In the Media

Chris Mejía, Director of the Food and Retail Operations Lab (FaROL), shares some good news: "I am very certain we are not going to run out of food."

“I think we’re overreacting,” says Chris Mejia-Argueta, director of the Food and Retail Operations Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, referring to reports of disruptions to the food industry. “I am very certain we’re not going to run out of food.”

Still, he understands why people may feel anxious if they don’t grasp exactly how the food supply chain is adapting to meet the crisis and simply see headlines about rotting vegetables and shuttered slaughterhouses. “It’s human nature to worry about things that are a mystery to us,” he says. The “black box” aspect of the food system “creates uncertainty. And uncertainty leads to hoarding and fear.”

Those feelings were on display last week in a Massachusetts supermarket where a woman wearing a face mask rooted at the back of near-empty shelves of dried beans. She rolled her cart down the aisle, then scooped up a couple dozen cans of black beans, pintos, kidneys.

“Emergency beans,” she told an onlooker. “Can’t have enough. ... Or maybe this is too much?” She moved as though to put some back, but then thought better of it, and shrugged. “Nah. Could be last chance.”

To reduce such uncertainty, says Mr. Mejia-Argueta, “we have to remember that the episodes we’re hearing about are local, and expected.”

The Christian Science Monitor