With a majority of the population put on isolation mode during this coronavirus outbreak, how we access, obtain and make food has gone through quite a change in a very short period of time. Grocery shopping is a whole new process feeling like a real-life thriller, where going out for necessities comes with the fear of not knowing if you'll be making it back. Even the way we shop once inside has slightly shifted to foods that will keep longer to avoid unnecessary trips out again.
With many forced to work from home, or worse, laid off from jobs, more time is being spent in the kitchen (since going out for food is no longer feasible). With the newfound free time comes more elaborate recipes being made and tested (and consequently more house fires have also been reported by the Red Cross since the lockdown).
While we are still figuring out how to navigate in these times, here are some of the things that have helped us adjust thus far.
Of course this fantastic twist on the ordinary coffee makes the top of the list. In a way, 'Dalgona Coffee' and "COVID-19 food trend' can almost be used interchangeably.
Originating from South Korea where it was named after a candy with similar whipped, sugary taste, this caffeinated drink's popularity spread as quickly as K-pop band, BTS. Ease in making the drink helped the recipe go viral. Using four simple ingredients found in most homes (instant coffee, sugar, hot water and cold milk) results in an extremely photographic concoction.
Since it first surfaced, Dalgona coffee has evolved with variations including matcha, boba and mocha. What will we come up with next?
Speaking of homemade creations, who else has noticed that a lot of people have been baking bread recently? Everything from sourdough to steamed buns and all different carbs in between. What is it about life in quarantine making people turn to kneading dough (get it)? Grocery stores can't even keep up with the demand for flour these days.
Turns out the reasoning is more than simply out of boredom. An excerpt from a recent Globe and Mail article says, 'in times of crisis, people covet creature comforts, and few things are as simple, yet satisfying, as freshly baked bread.' It then goes on to quote Harvey Anderson, a professor of nutritional science at the University of Toronto, "eating carbohydrate foods like bread stimulates insulin, which raises the uptake by the brain of the essential amino acid, tryptophan." Tryptophan is in charge of the creation of niacin, which then creates the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin helps improve your overall mood (and sleep!).
So when people say that baking is a kind of therapy, now we know why!
Support For Local Restaurants
When we are ordering in, however, there is an overwhelming support for small businesses rather than buying from big chains. Restaurants Canada found that nearly one in 10 restaurants have already closed since the lockdown and estimates that number can go up to one in five within the next month if things don't change.
Some restaurants have set up donation links to help fund their staff and their businesses from shutting down for good. New support programs have also surfaced as a result. One example: Feed The Front Lines TO, an initiative that not only helps provide meals to healthcare workers through donations from the public (in Toronto), but also helps support local restaurants and their employees by creating opportunities for them to help prepare and distribute meals throughout the city. There are also sister initiatives in New York and Boston.
Even at a time of crisis, it's so awesome to know that we still prioritize empowering our community. Go us!
Recipes For Iconic Dishes Being Released
It isn't just a one-way street. Many restaurants are showing their appreciation by sharing recipes for their most popular menu items online so that we can recreate them at home. Just because we can't dine out doesn't mean we can't enjoy the dishes we crave.
Check out Taste Toronto's comprehensive list of recipes gathered from some of the best the city has to offer. Everything from popular cocktails, memorable appetizers, show-stopping main dishes to delectable desserts from your favourite spots.
Some highlights include Mildred Temple Kitchen's Famous Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes, La Carnita's Mexican Street Corn, even the infamous funnel cake from Canada's Wonderland!
Rise in Food & Grocery Delivery Apps (and Contactless Delivery)
Of course delivery services have helped fuel our current (isolation) lifestyle in a large way. Apps like Uber Eats and Instacart made mobile and online ordering easy way before COVID-19, but since the population is encouraged to stay home more during this pandemic, food delivery apps have seen a huge surge in use and downloads.
Cardify's recent study shows the major increase between October of last year to last month's download statistics for DoorDash, Postmates, Uber Eats and Grubhub:
Looking at statistics between February and March for the grocery market, Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt saw a growth in their app downloads by 218%, 160% and 124%, respectively. After adding contactless delivery, sales increased by as much as 20 times based on a report by Apptopia.
At a time when social distancing is of utmost importance, getting your goods delivered to you is the best way to limit the amount of physical contact you have with the outside world. With contactless delivery, you don't even have to see the person who is dropping off your packages. Forget having to stand in line with countless other grocery shoppers or hungry diners waiting for their take-out orders.
Hiring for delivery industries subsequently increased as well. According to Forbes, Amazon is looking to hire an additional 100,000 workers, Domino's Pizza 10,000 employees and Walmart 150,000 workers (if anyone is out of work during this pandemic, this may be a good seasonal gig).
So What Does It All Mean?
To survive, a lot of companies have pivoted to digital income streams or added online ordering capabilities where they never thought to before. More and more consumers are now predisposed to going online to shop and when realizing the ease of which everything can be at our fingertips, many may never go back to the traditional method of attaining what we need.
This is especially true the longer we are conditioned to stay home. Online services will evolve to become more user-friendly and efficient in fulfillment processes in order to meet demand and customer needs. Advancements in technology and a strong online presence will be crucial for most businesses at this time.
If you think about it, this pandemic may revolutionize the way we shop and how we obtain basic necessities. Perhaps even change our ideals of what is considered necessary (toilet paper anyone?). With many of us reshuffling budgets due to lack of work or having to stay home as a result of social distancing, we go into survival mode and our purchases reflect that mentality.
At the height of the coronavirus scare (mid to late March), spending on financial planning/investments, apparel and accessories, restaurants, personal care, beauty products and travel saw up to a 77% drop over the previous month, reports Cardify. The same study also revealed a jump in purchases of computers and electronics (12.1% over the previous month). Further illustrating the growing dependency on technology to get us through times of crisis.
No matter what hardships we may be facing, one thing's for sure: we are fuelled by our inherent need to share food with each other one way or another.
How are you handling life during COVID-19? Would love to hear about any adjustments that have made life easier/harder for you. Comment below!