Bean Bust

Neda Ulaby at NPR wonders what happened to the beans people bought during the COVID-19 outbreak:

“Remember the early days of the pandemic when shoppers scoured grocery shelves for flour, yeast and beans? Since then, we’ve seen ample evidence of people baking sourdough and banana bread on social media … but what about all those beans?”

Subtle Shift

The coronovirus has changed how we shop for groceries, writes Anna Rahmanan at the Huffington Post:

“Doorstep delivery and online shopping, already popular before COVID-19, have become part and parcel of a business model that once relied almost exclusively on brick-and-mortar stores. Moreover, the pandemic appears to have affected not just where and how we buy food, but what we’re actually eating.”

Treasure Map

King County, Washington, has launched Local Food Finder, an interactive service that helps residents identify and shop from local farms:

“The mobile-friendly map is one of several ways King County is supporting local farmers who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted farmers markets and restaurant sales. It is a product of the Local Food Initiative that Executive Constantine created in 2014 to strengthen King County’s local food economy and increase equitable access to healthy, affordable food.”

Straight to the Source

In the age of COVID, more people are buying directly from farmers, reports the Portland Press Herald:

“Some farmers have refocused on selling directly to customers rather than wholesale to restaurants and schools. Many have increased their online presence through virtual stores and websites while at the same time giving up once prime spots at farmers markets. Many farms have said it’s too early to know how much difference the uptick in business will make, and they’ve been too busy with sales to take time to crunch the numbers anyway, but the increased interest in shopping at their stores is certain.”

Sausage Fest

To satisfy their late-night cravings, people in Germany are increasingly turning to sausage vending machines, reports the Independent:

“The machines are ‘booming’ outside German cities where shops are less likely to stay open for long hours, according to a survey by the German Press Agency….

“Some butchers’ vending machines sell three or four types of sausages, and punnets of accompanying potato salad – so customers can buy all they need for a traditional hearty German feast.”

Going Digital

Farmers markets in Oregon are embracing e-commerce in response to COVID-19, reports KTVZ:

“Farmers markets are an excellent source of local Oregon food, and while most remain open in their physical locations, many markets have responded to consumer demand by also adding online pre-order systems for their shoppers. This is an opportunity for consumers to support local businesses and preserve the farmers market industry, which serves communities across the state.”

Takes the Cake

Costco has stopped selling half-sheet cakes—the latest in a series of COVID-19-related disruptions—and is encouraging shoppers to buy 10-inch round cakes instead.

“‘To help limit personal contact and create more space for social distancing, Costco has reduced service in some departments,’ the company explained to outraged customers on its Facebook account. In a statement to the New York Times, Costco said it has no plans to immediately bring back the half-sheet cakes and said the round cakes are ‘resonating with our members.'”

Market Magic

John Whaite puts his finger on the appeal of food markets:

“[It] isn’t just ingredients that make markets special. In this plastic-wrap age, when almost everything we consume comes with a use-by date, it’s as though we’ve lost our senses.

“At a market, you select a bunch of tomatoes, bring it to your face and inhale, seeking a sweet, peppery vine smell. If it isn’t there, you find another. You ask the fishmonger to teach you how to pick out the freshest catch. The butcher will give you ideas for what to do with that piece of brisket. And those cheeses, those mountainous tractor-wheels of cheese, tower above you and inspire daydreams of Welsh rarebit or cauliflower cheese.”

The Future of Food

Josh Scherer looks at tech innovator Mike Lee’s futuristic grocery store:

“The hypermodern food hub, whose online store will open in the spring, won’t be offering up any Jetsonian food robots or particle rearrangers. Instead, Lee wants the store to focus on real, long-term solutions to the problems that are likely to affect how we grow, cook, and eat food in the coming decades.

“‘Our point is to say, ‘What are the things that could change the world in 50 years?’ and then think about what it means for the things you’re eating from the supermarket.'”