Abby Jones reflects on food, lockdown and the future
Sophia Lauren once said: “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti”. I have been reflecting on the food that makes me, and what I owe to it, contemplating the good and bad habits I have picked up during lockdown, and what I hope to take with me, into the future.
When lockdown was announced, my imagination ventured to my future lockdown-self, where I was wearing a pinny, flour on my cheek, cake cooling on the side, sipping a homemade ginger beer and watering my cress on the window ledge, before tending to my various kombuchas. Hmm … not quite what happened.
I do not own an apron, I have not baked any cakes, and the window boxes house only lonely geraniums.
However, I have certainly made efforts to avoid consuming all my cupboard carbohydrates and have instead, gained a new respect for food.
Every week, I collect my veg bag from Local Greens, which has been a real lifeline for me. They provide seasonal, locally grown fruit and veg, with no plastic packaging.
Each week holds something new; it is fresh and tasty. Supporting local shops that have produce from local farmers is a great way to remind yourself of the amazing food we grow here in the UK, and to support your community.
Over the past few weeks I have been volunteering with Under One Sky, an amazing charity whose small teams of volunteers go out with every evening, across London, to feed the homeless.
A lot of people on the streets are now totally cut off and are relying on street teams to find them and give them something.
There are hundreds of homeless in our city, and people are going days without anything at all. Locally, Norwood and Brixton Food Bank, AgeUKand Lambeth Larder are doing amazing work to help. Donate or volunteer if you can, and contact them if you need help.
Supporting local business
A lot of local businesses have turned solely to take away now. Check out my top ten takeaway list to treat yourself, and keep local businesses going.
Enjoying time with food
I am enjoying cooking again; I am churning out the pies, bread with all kinds of weird and wonderful flavours, I have made curry pastes and stews and soup (so much soup). These are, shamefully, things I should have been doing all along, but now I’m in the cooking groove I hope I’ll continue this practice, beyond lockdown.
The future …
We must now wait in line for food, we buy only what we need, and only what we can carry.
Although it’s a pain, it does highlight our usual dependence on food, with all of its associated convenience; having what we want, when we want it.
It also illustrates the very real possibility of the food system breaking down in the near future. A scary thought indeed, but with the consequences of climate change now accepted as a dark reality, I can’t help but look at this current situation as a bit of a test run.
This understanding of dependency and connectivity fits exactly with the things that I have learned to love about food during lockdown. Finding it, knowing it, enjoying it and sharing it.
I am grateful to give food to myself and others, and to buy it from those who have made food their livelihood. I am grateful for my kitchen, for the day to be marked by food; cut in half by lunchtime, rounded off with dinner, and seasoned with tea and biscuits. I am grateful for the kitchen table, where I sit, and enjoy the result of the time I have spent, cooking.
Food is a beautiful way to be good to others, and to yourself. So, keep eating those greens; if you have it, give time or money to a charity in your area; and don’t feel bad about a cheeky takeaway. After all, it’s supporting our community.