WU professors, like students, are experiencing the “new normal”
at home during the global pandemic, COVID-19. In this series, we’ll
explore how they are navigating their day-to-day, both inside and
outside the online classroom, and their observations of the world.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic much of what we had once considered to
be our typical daily routine has been up ended. From shortages of toilet
paper, eggs, and cleaning supplies at the supermarket, to our fears
that we or our loved ones might catch COVID-19, all of a sudden we are
still living in the modern world, but parts of our lives now seem to be
from the early 1900’s.
A Change of Pace
With a majority of Americans stuck at home, self-isolating,
self-quarantining or socially distancing I have seen a grassroots
movement focused on modern homesteading. Modern homesteading is
typically defined as the process of increasing your ability to be
self-sufficient while also being environmentally conscious.
In times of crisis it seems to me that we have a natural instinct to
become more self-reliant just like our agrarian ancestors. Despite being
unable to visit our favorite restaurant, bar or gathering place there
seems to be a renewed spirit with a focus on traditional self-reliant
qualities such as producing what we need ourselves. Right now parents
and grandparents are reaching for those treasured family recipes and
teaching children how to cook or bake like previous generations have and
perhaps inspiring some of these children to become a future America’s
Top Chef or food or beverage entrepreneur.
Just go to your local store that sells fruit and vegetable seeds and
you will see the display case emptied by our desire to grow our own
fruits and vegetables. Even looking on social media sites such as
Facebook, Instagram or Pintrest you will find your friends and relatives
are now, perhaps for the first time ever sharing recipes and articles
related to being self-sufficient or posting photos of what they just
cooked or baked. According to one report,
social media usage has been up since the start of the pandemic and it’s
thought of being related to people seeking human interaction while
they’re social distancing.
Shortage of Chicks
There also seems to have an innate desire within us in times of
crisis to want to become a farmer whether it be in a city, in the
suburbs or in a rural community. Need proof? Look at this recent headline
from the New York Times where it reports people are “panic-buying
chickens like they did toilet paper.” Do we by nature find comfort in
raising baby chickens to ease our fears?
I believe we do as I can personally attest to this sudden need for
purchasing baby poultry as I have a small micro-farm where I raise and
sell duck eggs and ducklings.
Since the social distancing and stay at home orders due to the
pandemic I have been inundated with phone calls, email, text and social
media inquiries about what breed of duck I raise, how to raise and care
for ducks, how to purchase my duck eggs and how much I sell my
Grocer’s New Normal?
Perhaps, in a few months we will see an influx of the purchasing of
canning supplies and we will find our friends and neighbors sharing
their zucchini bread, homemade jams, preserved vegetables and perhaps
even eggs on social media or small curbside kiosks. Although I don’t
see the general public having the stomach to process chickens to eat
themselves, but perhaps they will now be more likely to purchase their
food from the local food system and become part of the sustainable
If there is one potential positive outcome that comes from this
pandemic such as the one we are all currently experiencing, perhaps it
is the fact that we have learned a little bit about ourselves and our
ability to be self-reliant and reliant on each other in times of crisis.
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