Eating in a lockdown
Like many people, food has become even more important over the last few months. Meals and snacks become a way to break up the days working at home, the slower pace of live provides opportunities to cook new things, and even have a go at growing some of our own. Like many of those who have shared submissions, I have been finding daily enjoyment in a morning cup of coffee, in eating lunch with my partner every day, in ending the working week with a drink and crisps. These new rituals around food have helped provide a sense of routine and some normality over recent months. I've fallen fully into all the lockdown food fads: I've cracked sourdough, we've planted a veg patch and eagerly await a bountiful crop of tomatoes and courgettes, I've rolled out a dusty yoga mat, baked banana bread, and stocked up from my local brewery!
The start of lockdown was marked by significant disruptions to food availability in our supermarkets, the empty shelves revealing precarity in our food systems and our own behaviours as panic buying hit. We've felt a sense of connection to food through our weekly veg box, and are more aware of seasonal British fruit and veg than before. There have been some really positive changes in how we, and many of us, eat and shop: supporting local independent shops and restaurants more, helping neighbours with shopping, sharing new recipes with family, or the joy of socially distanced meals with friends. I will be really interested to see whether the ways we shop, cook and eat will be permanently changed by the pandemic.
We have been very fortunate to have been largely unaffected by the current crisis, we have stayed healthy, employed and well fed. Food has shaped my own pandemic experiences in positive ways but not everyone has been so fortunate; reductions in income, job losses, and school closures has put huge pressure on vulnerable families and seen a tripling in food bank demand across the country. I have been volunteering at my local food bank in Norwood & Brixton for the last two months where demand for emergency food parcels has doubled. I help in the warehouse team, sorting donations from supermarkets. The warehouse is in an old church, a pretty grand setting to be sifting through crates of baked beans and rice. I've loved helping here, working with the volunteers and find the work a great change from my normal day in front of a laptop. It's also made me reflect on the food poverty crisis in the UK, and the politicised systems that marginalise some of the most vulnerable families from accessing affordable and nutritious diets.