Podcast | How COVID-19 is disrupting our food system

Reporter Leah Douglas talks about how the pandemic is infiltrating industrial meat-packing plants and sickening its workers.

Worker cutting meat

The meatpacking industry has been hit hard by Covid-19, with many workers contracting the virus. (Jovelle Tamayo for Crosscut)

As it has done in so many other aspects of American life, the novel coronavirus outbreak has lifted the curtain on the nation’s food-production system. The conditions at meat-packing plants, in particular, have become headline news, as clusters of COVID-19 cases have led to thousands of infections and dozens of deaths. In response many factory farmers ceased operations, leading to fears of disruption to the food supply chain. Citing those fears, the Trump administration ordered  these plants to reopen, albeit with additional protective gear for workers. For the latest episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast, host Mark Baumgarten speaks with Leah Douglas of the Food and Environment Reporting Network about the virus’s toll on the food industry and its workers, and whether any amount of protection could get us back to normal. We also speak with Crosscut reporter Lilly Fowler about a recent report showing the virus’s disproportional impact on Washington state’s Latino population.