From Sourdough to Inflation: How the Pandemic Changed the Way We Eat

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From Sourdough to Inflation: How the Pandemic Changed the Way We Eat

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This is a news story from Eater by Jamie Feldmar. This chronicles the changing food habits of people throughout the pandemic. In 2020, there was a wave of panic buying for things like flour, canned soups, and frozen vegetables. The use of grocery store delivery apps also increased that year. Instacart, a grocery delivery app, saw a 229% sales increase.

With the panic buying came people looking for ways to use up things like canned goods and dried pasta. Things like sheet pan dinners, salads, and other easy meals became sought after in that time.

Another change that occurred was people trying food trends popular during the pandemic. Things such as sourdough and whipped coffee were major food trends of that time.

Meal kit delivery rose during the pandemic. Blue Apron had subscriptions to their food service skyrocket. Hello Fresh did as well, and was forced to close down temporarily to hire 3,000 extra workers to tackle the rising demand.

In 2021, other food trends occurred while many restaurants and other dining establishments could not operate at full capacity. Things like espresso martinis and the dalgona candy, and candy made popular by the TV show Squid Game, were just some of those food trends.

The food trends were not without labor issues though. In October 2021, Kellogg's workers went on strike, which affected the supply chains of that brand.

Supply chain issues have become an ongoing problem since the beginning of the pandemic. In February 2022, the US temporarily shut down avocado imports from Mexico, making the food more expensive.

With supply chain issues comes rising inflation. According to the USDA, food prices in 2022 were expected to rise between 6.5% to 7.5% increases. The Russian war with Ukraine cited as one of those causes.

May 2022 saw a baby formula shortage, where 40% of baby formula was out of stock.

Today, the USDA is looking to learn from the pandemic and the food issues that are occurring. One way they are doing this is through "a framework to transform the food system," which has the focus on building a more resilient supply chain while providing for rural and underserved communities.

My own prediction is that the supply chain issues will mean more local food and less imported food overall in the United States. This means opening more food processing plants and increasing work domestically within the food industry to meet demands. The global food system is very fragile to things like pandemics and war. If food prices are to ever get lowered as well, it is important that more food gets produced and used locally. It would have the added benefit of being more environmentally friendly too, as the food would not have to be shipped as far away to where it gets used.

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