COVID-19, Farming, and Food Workers

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Thanks for posting. Will share with a couple farmers I know.

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The Wifeacita grew up a migrant worker from the garlic fields of Gilroy, Ca to the bounty of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

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A su salud.

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To be fair, what Edward Lee ends up appearing to say in that article is not “this could be the end of an era for independent restaurants”. He appears to say “this could be the end of independent restaurants”.

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By José Andrés

Mr. Andrés is a chef.

  • Dec. 8, 2020

excerpt:
,

When the quarantine put a halt to our way of life, our food economy collapsed. Restaurants and hotels closed, and the food supply chain was broken. Supermarkets struggled to make home deliveries, and farmers began destroying their crops and their animals. Hundreds of thousands of unhatched chicken eggs, millions of gallons of milk, millions of pounds of potatoes — all wasted.

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https://civileats.com/2020/12/09/once-called-naive-for-his-focus-on-returning-land-to-black-farmers-thomas-mitchell-is-now-a-macarthur-genius/

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The fees were acceptable when delivery represented less than 15 percent of her business last year, but with delivery now nearly 90 percent of her sales, DoorDash and others are taking a big chunk of her revenue. “It’s not sustainable at these rates; the fees are killing my business,” she said, noting her overall sales are down nearly 15 percent.

I’ve posted this before but seems relevant again here.

30% admit to stealing food. I have no interest in third party food delivery services. I’m all in on curbside. Not a fan of take-away/carry-out - I don’t want to go inside. If an organization doesn’t want my business enough to support curbside service I’ll find someone who does, or do without.

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I ate at Olive Garden last year at a friend’s request. Baked ziti was on the menu, so I ordered it. I received boiled ziti with some sauce on top, warmed in a microwave. I didn’t complain because I knew it would be frustrating to have to begin a complaint by patiently explaining the meaning of the word “bake” to a restaurant manager who might never have seen anything baked before.

Curbside pickup is the responsible (<-- opinion) course of action to take for grocery shopping. It protects the shopper and the employees.

I feel bad for hospitality workers. I wonder if the pandemic is not a long-term disruptive event like the automobile was to makers of buggy whips. There is no question that more people are cooking for themselves. The question is whether enough people don’t want to be bothered to sustain any kind of resurgence and if so how much.

What are the opportunities? More private chef’s serving house parties? More businesses like Blue Apron? Private cooking instruction? A return of home economics to secondary school curricula?

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(… a steep decline in every kind of what we here would call cooking, and a massive permanent increase in the prevalence of pre-packaged food?)

I saw patterns in the grocery store before curbside became widely available. During the first round of lockdowns the prepared frozen foods such as TV dinners were wiped out, junk food was gone, and easy things like dry pasta and jarred sauce had big dents in supply. As time went on people seemed to branch out - lots of baking, heavier purchases of produce. I haven’t been inside a grocery since late August when curbside pickup became a viable option so I can’t say what purchase patterns are.

I do agree with you that some people are stuck with takeout and prepared foods. Is there correlation between those people and those who have returned to restaurants as soon as permitted? Allowed doesn’t mean smart. If some have returned to restaurants way to early (<-- opinion) others of us may not eat inside a restaurant for years.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold