This Dish Tells the Story of How COVID-19 Broke the Food System

This Dish Tells the Story of How COVID-19 Broke the Food System

Spot Prawns from Key City Fish in Port Townsend, WA
“Serving restaurants was 75 percent of our business,” president Johnpaul Davies says. To make ends meet he’s now connecting his restaurant partners with other local producers, like farmers and butchers. The chefs order directly from the producer, and Key City Fish handles the delivery.

Seafood from New Day Fisheries in Port Townsend, WA
The market conditions have been “challenging” but are slowly improving, owner and third-generation fisherman Scott Kimmel says. Sales are 25 percent less than what they were last year.

Illustration by Steve Gavan

Honeyboat Squash from Kamayan Farm in Carnation, WA
Owner Ariana de Leña had to develop new procedures for harvesting and delivering food safely. On the plus side, she says, it has been a good year for selling crops. “There is a renewed interest in buying local and a deeper understanding of how fragile the food system is.”

Squash seeds from Osborne Quality Seeds in Mount Vernon, WA
Sales rep Linda Fenstermaker was inundated with calls from home gardeners wanting to buy seeds, even though Osborne sells mostly to commercial growers. “It was exciting to get so many new growers,” she says, “but it will be interesting to see next year how many people come back.”

Illustration by Steve Gavan

Ceramic Bowl from Lexa Luna Studio in Seattle
“Before the pandemic, I relied a lot on in-person markets,” founder Alexa Villanueva says. “The pandemic has forced me to get creative in how I share my process, like creating videos for Instagram (@lexalunastudio).”

Clay from Clay Art Center in Tacoma, WA
“Sixty percent of our income is tied to the public education system,” owner Quinn Bougher says, referring to the center’s art classes. “Traditionally, our slow period is summer. This year it started in March, when we closed our showroom.” To control costs they’ve bought fewer materials and pivoted to curbside service.

Illustration by Steve Gavan

Chanterelles from Foraged & Found Edibles in Seattle
Foraged & Found used to sell primarily to restaurants; now it has shifted to retail. It’s not easy. “Even dealing with a grocery chain with 16 locations, the volume of orders is less than one large restaurant,” proprietor Jeremy Faber says.

We’ve been following how the restaurant industry has been coping with the Coronavirus throughout the year. For more reflections from the people on the inside, read our Restaurant Diaries series. 




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