Saturday, May 16, 2020

"Panic! At the supermarket: how covid-19 rewrote the shopping list"

Just 5 1/2 weeks old this piece is already a bit dated but still a sharp snapshot of "the cruelest month" following on the heels of The Long March.
Not sure what to call May.
From The Economist's 1843 Magazine, April 7:

From stockpiling Sprite to #coronavirusbaking, our relationship with food has gone to pot. Wendell Steavenson asks: what’s cooking?
In France they cleared the shelves of butter, in Italy pasta, in Britain it was chicken. In Germany their hamsterkauf (hoard-buying) was potatoes and pickles; New Yorkers bought out all the beans; elsewhere in America people lined up at gun shops. Coronavirus lockdowns set off a wave of stocking-up around the world. Canned food, cleaning products, flour and  macaroni all seemed perfectly sensible items to store, having been told that all restaurants were now closed and the kids would be at home for every meal indefinitely. On the other hand, panic buying toilet paper – now the global icon of the pandemic – seemed as mindless as it was universal.

Behavioural psychologists explained it as a need for control in uncertain times. There was a big element of FOMO too. Pictures of empty shelves snowballed a sense of scarcity and made us all want to buy more. We are social animals, after all; the herding instinct that spread the virus so effectively also helped toilet-paper grabbing go viral.

When faced with a scary situation, it is natural to want to do something to make us feel a little more prepared. We reached for the familiar, revealing personal predilections. Pictures from American supermarkets showed people piling dozens of a single item into giant trolleys: frozen sweetcorn, Sprite, chocolate-covered pretzels, Thousand Island dressing. An Australian friend isolating with a coughing daughter texted me, “I just realised harissa, Thai curry paste and Vegemite practically never expire!” Other friends confessed to buying cat litter and hair dye. One friend in London bought six chickens for the back garden. I bought three bars of dark chocolate and a bottle of rum.... 
Yo ho ho, MUCH MORE

Earlier: "How ultra-processed food took over your shopping basket"