COVID Contemplations: Crafting Normalcy

Hoarding seem to be one of the hallmarks of this pandemic. I suspect that is normal for anything affecting a huge swath of our communities or world, and that we haven’t seen this broad an effect since the last world war. Nothing since that time has affected supply lines and the lives of most of the world’s inhabitants through federal and other stay-at-home orders intended to limit the spread of the disease.

The toilet paper debacle was quickly revealed to be a supply-chain issue more than a case of hoarding or price gouging. It turns out that shifting nearly an entire workforce to work from home means more toilet paper is used at the residential scale, and the big industrial rolls and maintenance contracts flush (sorry) with TP resources cannot easily shift those resources over to local supermarkets. So be it, we coped. And maybe the bidet will become normal!

The current item that is scarce in most supermarket shelves is flour. All kinds of flour. Wheat, all-purpose, self-rising, even rice flour. People are baking at home. Breads, rolls, pizza dough, new dinner recipes, cookies, and more. There are recipe chain-letters going via e-mail, and a new resurgence in on-line video cooks. I think this is great, despite the lack of access to flour. I suspect the supply will shift as needed, given a bit of time, and some people will soon be done with trying their hand at baking, or the added pounds of evidence of over-indulgence will get them back into their exercise routine, and off of the high-carb indulgence.

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And maybe a lot of people will remain bakers and cooks going forward!

What concerns me is the uproar about this situation. There was an opinion piece, and I wish I could find it to share in this blog, but it railed against everyone stress baking, or delving into at-home culinary exploration, claiming that all the “hipsters” baking bread were taking bread out of the mouths of people who normally bake…and then it went further to imply that those same blamed hipsters were throwing off the whole system and should stick with buying “normal prepackaged foods”.

Seriously?

First, hoorah for anyone trying their hand at baking, realizing that homemade meals are awesome, or learning any maker skill they have not yet tried. Go for it. Do it. Maybe this will just be a nice stretch for you, to engage with some learning. Your brain and body need a challenge on occasion, and in a time when you have no control over anything, finding and developing a new skill represents control, and can be uplifting and healing. On top of this, you may turn this new skill into something you engage in and love for the rest of your life. And if enough people start making things, the world would be a better place, with more focus on creation, durability, repair, and love of the history of a thing. We may move the needle away from fast-fashion, fast-food, fast-living. Slow down and learn. Good for you!

Yet, somehow, pre-packaged microwave meals are stacked high and cost less than the whole foods they are made with.

Second, how weird is it that we think prepackaged items, assembly-line made from  imported ingredients, with little care, too many preservatives, and wrapped in single-use plastic, are something to consider “normal” and suggest we stick with! It’s bad enough so many people live solely on processed food stuffs. They have never eaten a raw food nut, only getting boxes of “health bars” or cereals with nut powders and warnings on the labels. It’s scary that you have to work very hard to find processed pre-packaged foods with pronounceable ingredients. Or that there exist food deserts in so many cities, mine included, where the ingredients to make homemade meals cannot be found, where fresh vegetables and fruits do not exist despite the city being close to farms. Yet, somehow, pre-packaged microwave meals are stacked high and cost less than the whole foods they are made with. Creepy.

Let’s not shame people for baking and cooking from scratch. Let’s shame, and then force a shift to remake, the systems we have created that make cooking and baking unusual.

Make and bake, 2bgreener.

Jodi

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