As food uncertainly lingers on the horizon thanks to US sanctions and government decimation of the economy during the past two years, there is another factor contributing to the problem. Since the beginning of the year, there have been several very large food processing facilities that have exploded or burned to the ground across the U.S.
This week, a vegetable and nut processing facility in Dufur, Oregon became engulfed in flames for unknown reasons.
“Lights flickered; They heard a pop and went up there to check it out and there was a fire,” according to a report made to Wasco County 911 records listed in the Wasco County Sheriff’s log.
The independent distributor of natural, organic an non-GMO foods which employees around 150 people, burned to the ground.
One week before that fire in Oregon, a massive fire brought down a meat processing plant in Conway, New Hampshire. After burning for 16 hours, multiple fire crews finally put out the fire at East Conway Beef and Pork but the facility is completely destroyed.
That same week, in Salinas, California, a massive fire at the Taylor Farms Processing Facility led to the evacuation of residents as it burned for over 17 hours. Taylor Farms is a major agriculture company that processes and delivers many of the salad kits seen in grocery stores. The cause of this fire is currently under investigation.
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Just weeks before that, a massive fire engulfed a Walmart distribution center in Plainfield, Indiana where over 1,000 employees shipped food and other supplies all over the region. The fire destroyed the massive 1 million square foot operation.
That same week, one of the largest food facilities of its kind in South Texas caught fire and burned to the ground. Prior to burning down, the Rio Fresh facility in San Juan, Texas, grew, packed and shipped a variety of Texas-grown items including Texas 1015 Sweet Onions, melons, greens, cabbage, and kale. The cause of the fire is currently unknown.
In Hermiston, Oregon, in February, a massive food processing facility suddenly exploded, injuring 7 of the nearly 400 employees who work at the Shearer’s Foods plant. According to reports, the cause of the explosion which originated near a boiler is still under investigation.
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It’s not only food production and distribution plants either. In Maricopa, Arizona, in March, a massive fire wiped out the Maricopa Food Pantry which distributes food to the less fortunate. More than 50,000 lbs of food was destroyed in the blaze that lasted for 24 hours. That fire is also under investigation.
The fact is that since last year, more than a dozen of these fires and explosions have taken place at food processing and distribution centers.
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To be clear, general warehouse fires are quite common. In fact, fire departments respond to more than 1,000 a year. However, the main cause of these fires is arson. What’s more, fires in food processing facilities are not that common and occur far less often.
To claim that all of these incidents are related would be pure speculation. But given the current supply chain situation and looming food shortages, the very idea of critical infrastructure burning to the ground for any reason, is unsettling to say the least.