It took me a while to write this one.

That’s not normally the case; I write one of these columns every month, and it’s pretty straightforward. Pick out a topic, knock out a quick 400ish words, and move on to the next thing. Working with words is what I’ve done for a living for more than 20 years, so 400 of them isn’t a daunting task.

But what hit me this month is the same thing that’s hitting a lot of people right now in all lines of work. I had no idea what to write about because I had no idea what was coming next. It’s been that way for more than seven months, and it eventually gets to a point where you need to just stop for a minute.

That’s a metaphorical stop, of course, because how many of us really can literally stop what we’re doing? We aren’t doing anything, but we’re busier than ever. You’re busy with food and beverage production, and I’m trying to figure out how to best cover what’s happening in that industry. Do we devote more coverage to the effects of the pandemic? Less? The same amount but in different ways? Wait, something changed. Wait, it changed again. Wait, it’s changing as we speak.

It’s draining, and it’s not sustainable. 

But speaking of sustainability, that’s what this entire issue is about. Our cover story is a feature on our Sustainable Plant of the Year, won this year by MycoTechnology. We also have features on water efficiency, waste management and utility management.

The good news is that the best practices for those topics aren’t being directly affected by the pandemic, and there are still a lot of good lessons to be learned from industry leaders. Sustainability is a constantly moving target, which isn’t really out of the norm these days. With most of the low-hanging fruit already picked, processors are looking for new ways to save energy, water and money, but building an airtight case for the financial investments required can be a challenge. 

Much like this column, sometimes you just have to take a step back and find a different way to approach a topic. Take some time to think about things from a different angle, and you might be surprised by the results.