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Florida consumers leaving vegetables on the shelves amid COVID-19 outbreak

Tuna and other can goods are scarce, but fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful.

Coronavirus is threatening the future of Florida farming
Coronavirus is threatening the future of Florida farming

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Farmers in Florida are plowing crops under because vegetables cost more to pick than they bring at the market, and some fear they may transmit the coronavirus.

Toilet paper is being rationed, if it’s available at all.

Tuna and other can goods are scarce, but fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful, in part, because restaurants have stopped buying, but also because some fear they could transmit COVID-19.

"You know, you look at some bananas, it’s kind of a normal thing. And I think people are probably making some pretty good decisions because those are the kinds of contacts that could potentially make a difference,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis.

But Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried argues fruits and vegetables are safe.

“There has been no transmission of COVID-19 from fruits or vegetables or any other typer of produce,” said Fried.

Sam Accursio is a farmer in Homestead.

He’s not worried about Flordia produce.

“What concerns me about buying food from third world countries is that they do not have the same regulations that we have here in the United States. With the environment, human rights, health concerns,” said Accursio.

Florida has more than 300 specialty crops and feeds most of the nation its fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter and early spring.

Fried said small farmers need the support.

“So we need to make sure that all of the money we are getting, the stimulus dollars, the money for our food banks, the money for our school lunch programs, that as much as that money stays here in Flordia and that they are buying fresh produce,” said Fried.

Under state law, grocery stores have to tell consumers where crops are grown and Fried said now, more than ever is the time to be eating fresh from Florida.

“An apple a day,” said Fried.

Fried is encouraging people to cook and then freeze vegetables for a healthier alternative.