Corona Veggie Mania
Piles Upon Piles of Frozen Vegetable Packages
A Hidden Side of Myself Emerges
It's my new addiction and it’s crazy.
Never in a million years would I have predicted this for myself.
(Of course, who would have predicted a virulent pandemic and life as it is in the United States in the spring of 2020?)
Step One: Recognizing I Have a Problem
I returned from the grocery store.
As I put away my purchases, I was genuinely shocked at the cornucopia of bags of frozen vegetables I have in my freezer. Major rearranging was required to fit in this morning’s stash.
I have become an out-of-control frozen veggie hoarder.
What Is Happening to Me?
Going to the grocery during COVID-19 times has become an emotional event for me: the situation where I am most likely to well up with tears.
Even though the number and type of items which will be available is always a crap shoot – God the Almighty is the only one who knows what they will have from day to day, or hour to hour – my local store has been fortunate enough to have a gradual increase in stock from the early days of panic hoarding.
Yet, the grocery is the saddest place for my “trying-to-be-mature” heart.
I think it’s because I spent my entire life as a “privileged” middle class person (I’m sorry, my BIPOC brothers and sisters) who never experienced living in a war zone, having shortages, or being food insecure. It just wasn’t part of my past.
Now, my brain keeps telling me how lucky I still am.
And, I certainly am. I have internet, my health, and I am not an essential worker putting myself at higher risk.
(THANK YOU, all you wonderful essential workers!)
But, my mood usually takes some hard hits at the grocery store.
So, wassup with the vegetables? Specifically, frozen?
At least two factors, I think, are at work.
Guess Number One
I live in Pennsylvania. Close to Philadelphia, to be specific. Philly, a highly populated city, is a hot spot for coronavirus infection rates.
When our good Governor Wolf wisely instituted safety measures, we had little warning. (Obviously, the coronavirus did not send a Save the Date email to any of us.).
Right before we learned how to sew our own masks and eyeball six feet of distance between ourselves and any other living thing, I went to my grocery store.
Unbeknownst to me, panic buying had already started. Shelves, for the first time in my life experience, had 10-plus feet gaps of NOTHING.
So, I panicked – not so much for my own larder, but because I have ninety-something parents who live an hour away from me. They are pretty much confined to home with a live-in caregiver.
Holy Moly Alert! I turned my cart around and ran to the aisles for liquid soaps and Ensure high calorie drinks. I stocked up. Next, non-perishable pastas. What a shock: the aisle formerly containing over 40 feet of four layered shelves displaying bags and boxes of noodles and macaroni was now totally picked over. A swarm of locusts could not have done a better job. I grabbed a few boxes of weirdo noodles and headed to my next destination –
If my heart had not sunk low enough before, it hit the bottom of the elevator shaft now.
Yes, an entire aisle of frozen foods was bare, save two bags of okra.
Oh my God.
It is so silly, so irrational, and so foolish, but I think that sight imprinted on me.
I think my primitive brain survival-mind learned a lesson that “whenever there are frozen vegetables available – GET LOTS!”
Obviously, I do get lots. I buy them to the point of not knowing how much I own.
Guess Number Two
This supposition, at least, has the potential to be logical.
We all know or have heard that we folks in “Shelter-at-Home Corona Virus Land” have been eating more.
And gaining weight.
For many of us, this comes from having access to food much more easily than when we were at a workplace.
See Maren at home.
See her kitchen.
Maren’s kitchen is full of food.
It is good food.
It is yummy food.
Maren likes food.
Maren likes to eat food.
See Maren eating food from her kitchen.
I think we also are tempted to eat more than our pre-COVID19 intake because we are seeking sensory stimulation during quarantine time.
It makes sense to me.
Food has a colored package and something to read. Something to think about. It’s desperate times when food becomes our substitute for co-workers and water cooler chats – notwithstanding the zillion and one Zoom meetings we have these days!
So, because overeating and weight management have always been demons on my shoulder, perhaps I am buying vegetables in record amounts because I know it would be good for me.
Now, will someone get me to start eating those babies instead of a bowl of half-and-half, mixed seeds, and many heaping spoonsful of brown sugar?
What About Fresh Vegetables?
As I said, I live in Pennsylvania and all this behavior-adaptation started in early March. My own backyard garden was not producing anything except scallions. It is only recently that my leaf lettuce has been bountiful enough to harvest. So, there was little to no ability to walk into my yard and pluck a wonderfully fresh homegrown vegetable to munch.
As far as my buying fresh produce at the grocery store during quarantine times, I am
Careful for two reasons. (Is two my magic number today?)
First, I hate, Hate, HATE food waste. It’s a virtue I inherited from my parents. So, I can only buy a little bit of what I think I will get around to eating before it starts wilting. (And remember, that brown sugar concoction is always calling to me.)
Second, the selection is erratic and I am wary of germs on the unpackaged produce. That concern gives me pause and also stunts the amount of fresh veggies that I will buy at a grocery store.
Beyond the Twelfth Step
Addiction programs often use 12 steps for the addict.
Am I an addict? Of over-purchasing frozen vegetables?
Can I be helped?
I say “Yes” in a resounding huzzah.
Now that I am aware of the problem – and it is over buying, not a need to eliminate all buying – I will practice “mindfulness.”
I will do a visual inspection and informal inventory of my freezer before I go to the store.
Now that summer gardening is blossoming, I will eat more home-grown veggies.
I will think about what I want and need.
Then I will go to the grocery store, see what is and isn’t available,
buy in a frenzy.
Sigh. It could be worse. I could be eating that cream and brown sugar three times a day instead of only once.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.