Looking ahead: The top food and agriculture stories for 2021

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that predicting the future is risky business. In a world with such an uncertain future, does predicting top stories for the coming year even make sense? In late 2019, COVID-19 was not on our radar at all. We wrote about the next 12 months with a confidence that looks poignantly naive in retrospect. We could not have predicted how a pandemic — now known to us as the pandemic — could have disrupted supply chains, decimated the restaurant industry, sickened and killed food and farmworkers, caused huge increases in poverty and hunger and transformed how we grocery shop.

One thing we know for certain about the coming year: The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, and we will continue to see tumult well into 2021. In light of all this, we’ve tried to approach these predictions with a tremendous amount of humility and a fair amount of caution.

Food insecurity will dominate daily life for a huge number of people

The pandemic disrupted nearly every facet of American life this year, and brought with it the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Though there were some signs of recovery over the summer, unemployment claims are rising again to record highs. This, combined with a spike in grocery prices, has aggravated the nation’s persistent problem with food insecurity: Nearly four in 10 Americans reported not having enough to eat this year, and nearly 17 million children are expected to struggle with finding enough to eat.