Diggings 5 May 2020: COVID – 19 Special edition 1#

I have pulled together some of the articles that I have fed on in the past few weeks on the impact of COVID – 19 on foodways – production, distribution, consumption. Happy iso reading

Female Rowers in Venice Using Gondolas to Deliver Groceries to Elderly amid Coronavirus Lockdown

A group of women in Venice is using their love for rowing to help their community members in need while the city prepares to lift its coronavirus pandemic lockdown. The women — who are all part of a nonprofit organization called Row Venice — have been traveling via gondola and delivering groceries to the elderly, as well as those who cannot shop for themselves, according to the Associated Foreign Press.


Build diverse food systems for post-COVID-19 world

Crops that can be grown in a short amount of time, such as quinoa, millet, sorghum, Salicornia and leafy traditional vegetables can give hope to smallholder farmers and rural communities struggling to contend with food and nutrition security amid the crisis. There may be many more family members to support as a result of the exodus from the big cities. Home gardening of vegetables and fruit, or enterprises around bee-keeping could be important additions to food supply and income for these families.

Our existing programmes to stimulate local enterprise and increase empowerment are now doubly important for the poor and the disadvantaged in food systems, including market vendors, small-scale processors, grocery workers, and the truck drivers who deliver the goods.


Covid-19 and intensive farming

But more to the point, the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) makes the case that a secure food system does not necessitate intensification. In Britain, for example, the small family farms that used to exist, alongside local abattoirs, packhouses, butchers and retail outlets, formed a network of shorter more resilient supply chains that provided the infrastructure to get food to local populations in a secure and sustainable manner; and it is to this kind of food system that we need to return.



Peter Barrett has transformed the family farm with regenerative principles. Pictured are owners, Sue Velvin (left) with Helen and Paul Barrett. SUPPLIED/LINNBURN STATION

Not your typical sheep paddock: why sunflowers and lentils herald NZ’s regenerative revolution

Not directly a covid story but adding to the theme of rethinking farming for future sustainability

To demonstrate what real soil is about, Tichinin starts the conference by flourishing two plates. One holds a small dusty mound of flour, the other a slice of bread. This flour represents the industrial farmer, Tichinin says, sprinkling the plate with water from a paper cup. The water puddles on the surface and runs off, scouring tracks. Just like a typical compacted paddock when caught in a heavy burst of rain, she says. It has no porous soil structure and so an abysmal absorptive capacity.

But the same cup of water poured on the bread is immediately sucked out of sight. “The difference is the biology,” says Tichinin. With its yeast reaction, the bread is a carbon sponge. Real soil is the same. Bound into an absorbent crumb by its carbon. “Gazillions of microbes, when they pee, poop, bonk and die, release this nutrient rich cytoplasm that ultimately forms the glue holding the silt, sand and clay together.”


Coronavirus: effects on the restaurant industry

The $350 billion loan program quickly ran out of money when more than 46,000 loans were approved.   Food services firms got $30.5 billion. Most of the money went to large restaurant firms


My Restaurant Was MY Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need it Anymore?

And right when I started to feel backed against the ropes, I got a group email from a few concerned former Prune managers who eagerly offered to start a GoFundMe for Prune, inadvertently putting another obstacle in front of me: my own dignity. I sat on the email for a few days, roiling in a whole new paralysis of indecision. There were individual campaigns being run all over town to raise money to help restaurant staffs, but when I tried to imagine joining this trend, I couldn’t overcome my pride at being seen as asking for a handout. It felt like a popularity contest or a survival-of-the-most-well-connected that I couldn’t bring myself to enter. It would make me feel terrible if Prune was nicely funded while the Sikhs at the Punjabi Grocery and Deli down the street were ignored, and simultaneously crushed if it wasn’t. I also couldn’t quite imagine the ethical calculus by which I would distribute such funds: Should I split them equally, even though one of my workers is a 21-year-old who already owns his own apartment in Manhattan, while another lives with his unemployed wife and their two children in a rental in the Bronx? I thanked my former managers but turned them down: I had repeatedly checked in with my staff, and everybody was OK for now.


12,000 restaurants may shut for good, says hospitality body

Restaurant & Catering Australia chief executive Wes Lambert holds fears for 25 per cent of 47,000-plus restaurants nationwide. Speaking with Good Food, Lambert outlined the impact of the coronavirus shutdown and its anticipated shockwaves. “The maths says 11,750 [closures]. [It] will depend on how long lockdowns last, how the recovery looks financially from the government, diners coming back to restaurants, and domestic and international travel timelines. All these factors will control the percentage,” says Lambert.


First Look: Banana Cake, Fluffy Japanese Cheesecake and Bacon-and-Egg Rolls – Stanmore Fine Diner Sixpenny Has Switched Gears (and It’s Delicious)

It’s traded its $175 degustation menu for a pandemic-friendly general store. You can also get housemade passata and handmade pasta; boxes of restaurant-quality produce; and a take-home set menu for two.


 Cartoon by Golding, May 2020

New lockdown spending habits will outlive the
coronavirus pandemic

There has been a surge in demand for household services such as home delivery and subscription television since the onset of the pandemic, according to a real-time spending tracker developed by analytics firm AlphaBeta, which is part of Accenture, and the credit bureau illion. Food delivery has led the way, with spending 192 per cent higher last week than the pre-pandemic norm.


Lithuanian capital to be turned into vast open-air cafe

Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, has announced plans to turn the city into a vast open-air cafe by giving over much of its public space to hard-hit bar and restaurant owners so they can put their tables outdoors and still observe physical distancing rules.


The Detroit Restaurants That Taste Like Ancient Mesopotamia

And lastly, another non-covid-19 story – a nice intro to a new to me cuisine.

“You are literally eating ancient recipes,” Jonna saysdishes born of both celebration and survival over centuries, from the days when Mesopotamia was the cradle of civilization. From this part of the world came the very first cookbooks, featuring recipes mostly for stews, etched in clay tablets. These dishes reflected how advanced Mesopotamian society was for its time—they involved making dough, adding spices, and using rendered fat as flavoring. Their land was fertile, supporting diverse produce and livestock, and they were in contact with nearby regions, enabling cross-cultural exchange.


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