Well, it’s been an interesting week hasn’t it? We watched as the UK began to ramp up, and clamp down, in an effort to try and manage the spread of Coroanvirus Covid-19. To keep below the levels which might give our NHS a fighting chance of dealing with the cases which are surely coming their way. Alongside that we also saw a very ugly side of humanity (and I use that term loosely) as people sripped shelves bare of food and flouted the advice to practice social distancing.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic initiatives out there. Communities pulling together to help get food and essentials to those who need it most. Today I read that a cry for help to provide our ambulance service with towels and soap resulted in them being inundated withing two hours. The power of a connected network – albeit from a distance – made the chain required to deliver.
It has kept me busy, observing. ‘Busy’ is something I needed. As some of you who read my last piece will know after losing our trip of a lifetime.
But back to the issue of food and essential supplies. We really have seen the worst and the best of people. And it has made me really think about what I am buying and how much food we really need.
Solution focussed thinking
This weekend has provided some real challenges. Employees made redundant. Self employed grinding to a halt. And our hospitality industry facing complete shut down. As cafes, bars and restaurants were told to close their doors their reactions were interesting. While some responded as if it were a punishment, others switched their heads into problem solving mode.
As someone who has owned my own business(s) for nearly 15 years now, I always remember some great advice I was given at the outset. If you have a service to offer, first look at what your customer needs.
And literally overnight almost the whole hospitality industry went into lockdown. Now watch and learn. Within hours establishments had turned into takeaways and supply shops. Awesome! Because what do we all need most of right now? A reliable supply of food. And for hubs situated in communities, to be able to provide access to that food, right at the heart of where it’s needed.
Meanwhile the supermarkets are battling to keep the shelves stocked and the baying wolves from their doors. There is enough food! There has always been enough food. Our population hasn’t grown. Our bellies haven’t gotten bigger (speak for yourself). But human nature has kicked in. Survival mode has taken over where common sense once lived.
No amount of pleading seems to be getting through. Remember last month we were all, like ‘Be Kind’? Now. It feels a bit like every man jack for himself. And that is just awful.
Will shielding change the way our food chain operates?
Yesterday came the much awaited news that ‘shielding’ is coming into play this week. That is protecting the UKs 1.5 million most vulnerable, the very best that we can. The military is coming in to help operate hubs. Some of our best logistics people in the country will be applying precision and strategy to get the support to those people. Be it care, medicine or food.
I actually cheered at that news. I really did. Because I secretly hope this will change how we all shop. How we all have to shop. Because there surely has to be an order of priority? Time will tell of course.
Making myself accountable
I woke this morning with a new determination. I won’t lie. I have worried about how I can do my normal weekly shop. You see, although I am not in the 1.5 million most vulnerable, I am in the category who needs to take extra care when going about my daily business. Seasonal asthma is still an underlying health condition, and right now is when I am at my worst. Those damned hazels and their catkins. They floor me.
So I have imposed my own self-isolation. No more supermarket madness for me! Nor for Mr Smith either, if we can in any way avoid it. You see I think the risks of him bringing it home greatly increases, the more people he is among. The more touchpoints he has to pass through in order to bring home our simple baskets of shopping. Food wrappers, trolley handles, card machines. How do we protect ourselves against the contact points?
And I don’t want him to get sick either. We are just applying a risk strategy to our routines. Not obsessively. Just sensible precautions.
So my Monday has been turned over to thinking about how to shop differently. I spent a few hours yesterday looking for good old fashioned local shops. Fruit and veg. Meat from a butcher – just imagine? Fish. Bread and milk. Was it possible to obtain everything we need just by shopping the way we used to? Before the supermarket chains came along?
We are rural – so local for us can still be 10 or 15 miles away. But so far, touch wood, we seem to have a plan. We won’t go hungry. Nor will we strip out those places either.
And bonus – a local B&B today announced they are doing take out breakfast rolls from early morning through lunchtime. Yummy in my tummy! I think we might avail ourselves. Takeaways are a bit of a luxury in these parts.
But we are shopping normally – just differently.
I will let you know how we get on next week.
Food waste begins at home
Meanwhile I also did my own stock take this morning. Today the freezer got it’s annual inspection.
Go on, own up if your freezer is full yet you don’t actually know half of what is in there? I challenge you to go and look. Go now! Take a piece of paper and list everything in there, use by dates and all. Now research how much of it is still useable. If you are throwing a ton of it out then maybe it is time to give yourself a good talking to.
That is what I did this morning. I like to cook double and I am a beggar for freezing the other half and then totally forgetting about it. Then six months later I decide it’s time to throw it out because I need more freezer tubs.
I am ashamed. I really am. Because we shop fresh each week, tempted by the delicious fresh food. I am like Gollum. Attracted by the precious things. Meanwhile I still have food in my freezer.
Use it up now
And that got me thinking. Could we all live for a week or two off what is already in our freezers and larders? My guess is many could for sure. And that would take pressure off those who really are struggling to get essentials. Allow the supermarkets to get back on track. Allow the Foodbanks to restore a level to provide for those, who through no fault of their own, are in crisis. And Lord knows that number is surely going to rise now with so many facing the prospect of little or no income.
If this sounds a bit like you then let’s all do the right thing. Use food wisely. The supermarkets and food shops will still be there. Then you can be truly grateful for being able to shop for your usual – instead of for the next three weeks!
Who knows, maybe the one good thing which will come out of this will be that we all start to appreciate what we have just a little bit more too.
Stay well, be safe, and please, let’s not be selfish.
Toodle pip for now.
Marie also writes for Medium as @marietsmith
Any links which take you to my Medium stories, from this blog, are entirely free reads – so fill your boots. Clap too if you feel the urge, because even unpaid reaction helps a story gain traction.