Food, expanding waistlines, cans and Covid-19
When in doubt, stressed, fatigued, worried and every other emotion we have gone through during this pandemic, what do we turn to? Food. Of course, we do! I imagine that basing my prognosis on what is happening within my own household people’s tastes will change long term for a number of reasons.
8 reasons why our relationship with food will change in the new normal
1. Anyone experiencing Covid 19 will be relieved when they recover their sense of taste and smell. It’s only when we lose these sense that we truly understand how we eat with our nose! There’s nothing worse than sitting down to a plate of food and tasting absolutely nothing. We understand that food is not just food it gives us pleasure too. To anyone experiencing this right now, I salute your struggle!
2. We have rekindled our love of tinned food. Never has it seemed so important. Cans of tomatoes, frankfurters, kidney beans, fruit pie filling and assorted ingredients have surfaced from the back of the cupboard. When did we buy such ingredients? What prompted us to make the purchase? However, what the public has discovered is that you are never truly alone when you have canned food. It’s also 100% recyclable and there is even a renaissance in recipe books can you believe? Check out Tin Can Cook by Jack Munroe and Tin Can Magic. Who would have thought?
3. Store cupboards have suddenly become the places where much time is spent, hanging on the door looking for inspiration. It feels like Ready Steady Cook in our household. The kids are online looking out recipes for crazy combinations and our taste buds have been on quite an adventure. Never has the spice rack seen so much activity. All the stuff we’ve bought and used for one recipe have seen the light of day once again. I personally recommend Ras El Hanout, Harissa paste, Panch Phoran and the Wicked range of spices and sauces that are amazing.
4. Our meals are different. Suddenly there is time to go on culinary adventures. We are really appreciating all the food we bring into the house. After all it’s the hunter gatherer gene resurfacing. A trip to Tesco is quite an adventure these days and not unlike the Krypton Factor. How do I dodge the nappy aisle without breaking the one way system and how do I reach across to grab what I need without compromising someone’s two metre exclusion zone? Alongside queuing and forgetting everything, substituting other favourites and trying not to feel rage, despair and frustration in equal measure, shopping isn’t what it was.
5. Comfort food has never been so important. Apparently, the sale of pizzas and snacks have gone through the roof. We crave carbs in times of crisis and apparently carb free is way up Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and anyway avocados have become a dirty word haven’t they? When in doubt make stew and dumplings or cookies, or both!
6. In addition, we have got into the habit of marking every aspect of our social lives with food. We buy birthday cakes, go out for meals, have a weekly take away, graze endlessly and find any excuse to sit down for tea and cake or biscuits and other sugar laden, fatty slices of deliciousness. I have come to the conclusion that strict mealtimes need to return. Eating between meals needs to be banned and every sin needs to be punished by 50 sit ups. Otherwise how on earth will we emerge through the front door at the end of all this? I fear we may need a builder to widen the aperture at this rate.
7. What this pandemic has demonstrated is how many people really struggle to put healthy food on the table for reasons stemming from fuel poverty, lack of shops selling fresh foods, insufficient knowledge and the vagaries of the universal credit system. What people have also come to realise is those that can have probably taken food for granted and stopped seeing it as the precious commodity it really is. Will we change our approach to food shopping, ingredient procurement and our general attitude to what we eat? It’s likely, wouldn’t you say?
8. What are the eating and cooking trends happening as I write? Apparently, the BBC Good Food website has seen a massive increase in search for every kind of bread recipe. In addition, chocolate brownies and banana tea bread have become firm favourites. Mary Berry suggests making slow cooked food like casseroles and preparing extra to freeze and/or give to someone that lives alone. If cakes are your thing then sharing with neighbours means we can all have the pleasure of baking without being ‘forced’ to eat all of it. Online baking sessions like those provided by Skillshare can improve skills and be quite sociable. What’s important is that we combine good health with the desire to keep eating. It’s probably a good idea to examine our relationship to food and how we use it. I mean, what else is there to do? Apart from collect wild garlic chives and make cheese and wild garlic scones with the kids and pesto too. I have the recipe if anyone wants it. Now is the time to use stuff that’s free.
Although some of this is light-hearted, I do feel there are a number of very serious aspects of food production and harvest that require attention. Farmers say that pickers are in short supply and will compromise various harvests. Picking up goods like asparagus from abroad now requires just one driver in a lorry instead of two. This means non-stop journeys are no longer possible and costs inevitably rise. We may well face a global food shortage for a variety of reasons. Production has slowed or stopped in places. Merchant ships in some parts of the world are being prevented from docking and it does also look like a land army may well need to be raised again. With a shortage of seeds and many horticulture businesses facing potential ruin it really is our duty not to waste a single bean.
Is there anything you could add to this list?