Frankly, if someone gave me a “Keep Calm” mug right now I’d probably feed it them. Forcibly. And I might not be fussy about which orifice I chose. I’m so cross about the hoarding, panic buying and general stupidity, I’m done with being polite about it.
We don’t actually have any shortages, or at least we didn’t until a lot of selfish people, or to be charitable a lot of scared people, went completely nutso in the shops. Just give the supply chain time to work. Yes, I’m talking to you, the couple with a shopping trolley apiece pretending you don’t know each other. We may be lucky enough not have corona virus but we’re all suffering from its side effect, Empty Shelf Syndrome.
As a consequence of ESS there are many talented people writing about what to cook from your store cupboard. I don’t feel the need to add to this. Also, I haven’t a clue what you have in your kitchen. Beans and pulses? Tins of tuna? Cereal? Dusty spices you bought four years ago, used a pinch of and then consigned to the back of the shelf? A can of corned beef with a rusty key and a suspiciously bulgy appearance? (Throw that one out right now.)
Most of us, if we’re honest, have lurkers that are past their sell-by. Sometimes they’re absolutely fine to eat, sometimes they’re not. I’m not judging you, you haven’t seen the bottom of my freezer. Neither have I for a while, a situation I suspect will soon be remedied.
Or maybe we have slightly more exotic ingredients we bought because we read a recipe, thought ‘that sounds good’ and remembered too late that we’d used the newspaper to line the bottom of the henhouse. Mea culpa. The hens were nice and warm though.
I’m making a conscious effort to work my way through the frosty contents of the freezer, the over-stuffed store cupboard and whatever we have in the garden (mostly woody parsnips and some alarmingly robust greens, but I comfort myself that it’s nearly asparagus season and yes, I will sleep in the veg patch armed with a sharpened razor hoe). I don’t want to make a bad situation worse by buying stuff I don’t really need, ‘just in case’. That’s how panic buying escalates. Daft people start hoarding, then sensible people add a bit more to their baskets because they’re worried that when they eventually do run out, they won’t be able to replace stuff.
I’m glad to see that supermarkets have finally put limits on what people can buy, are setting aside special shopping hours for the elderly and vulnerable and that they’re giving some of their squillions to charities like the Trussell Trust. I hope they give their hard-pressed staff a bonus, too.
I’ve had to close my cookery school for the duration to safeguard the health of students, staff and the general public. It’s a blow but it’s the only responsible reaction to the crisis and I’ve still got a roof over my head and food to eat. I worry about friends in the food industry who’ve had to close or are seeing their customers evaporate: restaurateurs, pub and cafe owners, street food vendors. I worry about small independent producers who could find themselves facing financial hardship and freelance friends whose work has dried up overnight and who don’t qualify for government help.
And I worry when I’m told that a small local supermarket had a couple of hundred people queuing outside waiting for it to open, many of them of retirement age, and all too many of them shaking hands and chatting as they stood cheek by jowl. Please, let’s observe the safe distancing rules and use some common sense. People won’t just lose their livelihoods if we Carry On Regardless. They’ll lose their lives.