Love In the Time of Corona: Foraging Day

An honest reflection and sometimes tongue-in-cheek diary of my experiences and preoccupations living through COVID19. Welcome to ‘Love in the time of Corona’.

Image credit: Centers for Disease Control

Love in the time of Corona: Foraging Day

Dear Diary,

Today’s foraging yielded 750ml packs of crystalised bleached — a true boon. Non-laundry bleach has been off the shelves for weeks. Only about 10 packs were left; I stood strong in my place; I wasn’t the only one who noticed them. Observing the customer limits, I walked away with two, pushed protectively down in my trolley. I’m happy to have the crystals.

Flour still largely absent from the shelves. Despite what I’ve read about people buying flour but not dry yeast, in my neighbourhood of Italian, Greek and Bulgarian matriarchs and white bred corn fed Aussies, the flour-horders have put two and two together and are buying out both. Safe behind glass in the deli section there’s wet yeast — I’m wondering whether I should get some while I still can. I guess if you freeze the culture it will die?

In Australia there is no food or product shortage. But thanks to panic buying and hording, the fearful and opportunistic (mostly) non-threatening behaviours, shelves are empty in once-bountiful supermarkets. Our privilege has been ripped from us, suddenly, and probably temporarily — but we just don’t know. The not knowing drives the anxiety. As a woman I spoke to in the shops said to me, ‘We’ve just seen how generous people can be with the fires — now we’re fighting each other for toilet paper.’ She’s right. The contrast is shocking.

The COVID19 pandemic is likely to be temporary, but it is world wide. It leaves me asking the question: How else will this change us?

I haven’t stooped to out-and-out hording. I won’t. But the purchasing decisions I make are different now.

I’ve started buying my customer limit of two packs of fresh mince everytime I shop: easy to throw into the deep freeze. I bought eggs. Just a dozen. I don’t need more eggs. Eggs have a used by date, but I can make quiches, frittata — even cakes with them and freeze those. Alcohol-based sanitizer disappeared weeks ago. I bought one of the last two bottles of hand soap, plus some body wash. Strangely, the connection that hand soap and body was is essentially the same product hasn’t been realised. Yet. I bought some menstrual pads — some of the last on the shelves. I’m thankful for my menstrual cup.

Note: find out if cloth menstrual pads are any good.

Today I made my first shameful panic purchase. It was nappies: a first-world problem. There’s no rush on them yet, but they’re made in China and I expect at some point they’ll join the list of things that are hard to come by. Nabbed two boxes to add to the box unopened on the nursery floor; when these run out I’ll change to cloth nappies.

Note: order more cloth nappies.

Still no toilet paper. We have enough for another week. At least I could laugh with a woman packing shelves about my son dropping a fresh roll straight into the loo — such a precious commodity these days.

No rice or pulses, dried or tinned.

Frustrated at finding no tinned tomatoes again, I shrugged and bought fresh ones, more onions, and parsley — all still in abundance — I’ll cook up some tomato sugo today. It will be nicer than plum tomatoes anyway. Why don’t I do it more often? Time consuming but more rewarding, and I’ll know exactly how much added salt, how much sugar my family is consuming; no preservatives.

The next step is planting tomatoes alongside the lettuce and veggie seeds I bought today. Makes me think of Marilyn Waring’s Counting For Nothing, which includes subsistence farming with women’s unpaid labour.

Being at home with the kids has always been a messy, mostly dichotomous conflict in my own mind: partly the best gift I can give my children, partly feeling complicit in my own oppression. But in these strange, strained times, I’m seeing feminism: mother-earth feminism, in a new light.

A reluctant housewife and hopeless green thumb, the possibility of not having my children grow up with the abundance I have consumes me at times. I now feel reaching back to things (which to me) were almost lost ‘womanly arts’; instruments to use up our time and keep us from forming those civilisation-building legacies the patriarchy prizes so dearly, might just be the key to the self-sufficiency we might yet need to empower ourselves to feed our families through the pandemic.

As the world feels like it’s falling down around us, what legacy is more important?


Freelance Writer|Emerging Author|Shrews Untamed Podcast

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