THE Great Toilet Paper Shortages of 2020 and 2021 were one thing; now we're facing the Great Shortage of Everything.
This time round, the empty supermarket shelves are not due to panic buying but to the fact that many of the people who normally drive the trucks, unload the boxes and pack the shelves are off sick or isolating.
The empty shelves are a stark reminder that most of our food comes to us at the end of very long supply chains.
Take tinned asparagus, for example. It used to grow in abundance here in Bathurst, but not any more. The last tin I bought contained asparagus grown in Peru.
I have been hearing anxious talk about food security for many years, but it's always felt a little abstract. We're surrounded by the stuff; we produce great mounds of food waste every day.
For some people, though, the issue has always been top of mind.
In the early days of Bathurst Community Climate Action group, back around 2007, food security was an issue championed by the late Ross McIndoe.
He felt that with the disruptions brought by climate change - think bushfire, flooding, crop failure in many parts of the world - it would be prudent to promote local food production.
A farmer himself, contributing produce to the local food co-op, he certainly put his money where his mouth was.
I think Ross would be taking a particular interest in the situation we're facing now. Our lean, mean, "just in time" supply networks are being given a run for their money.
No doubt, with the pandemic easing, we'll soon be back to where we were. But these empty shelves should be giving us food for thought (pun intended).
Author Gabrielle Chan discusses food security in her recent book, Why You Should Give A F*ck About Farming.
Noting that we human beings are only nine meals away from anarchy, she argues that a system geared to a small number of export products - wheat, almonds, cattle - could be leaving us vulnerable in the future.
She argues for government policies that would ensure diversity of local production - something many other countries have set in place.
This would have the added benefit of supporting small to medium farming families and the rural communities they live in. Not to mention lots of choice in our local supermarkets.