Overcoming Fear Of Food

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Grow Greens For Peace Of Mind

“I never thought I’d be afraid of my groceries”, one friend recently posted. She’s definitely not alone; I’ve been dismayed to hear neighbors talk (or mostly text) about how they’re dealing with their own groceries these days. Washing, scrubbing, wiping down packaging, bathing produce in bleach water…. Such measures may be wise but can be taken too far. Another friend recently said sadly that her cabbage salad tasted a bit medicinal after being soaked in soapy water, then a dilute bleach solution. Whoa there! I’ve seen the same videos you have, of doctors demonstrating their clean room technique on fruits and vegetables. But I’ve also seen this interview (see below) with Dr. Fauci and Trevor Noah and I’m definitely putting more trust in the words of one of the the world’s leading (and up to the minute informed) experts on infectious diseases
than in random media posts, however well intentioned.

Posted March 26: Dr Fauci answers important questions in about 15 minutes. Wow!

Do Not Be Afraid

Fear mongering is always popular on social media, because our human brains are hard wired to follow up on perceived threats. It’s certainly good to stay informed, but it’s also vitally important that we not allow our fearful lower selves to get sucked into obsessive information seeking (ask me how I know). There’s some excellent information and advice online, but there’s also a lot of absurd and even dangerous crap going around, some of which purports to be from leading universities or experts but are actually junk.

When I realize that I’ve lost way too much time to the internet, I’m making a point of going outside and breathing. Whether I’ve got the juice for a brisk walk or can only manage a leisurely stroll around the block, I always feel less flustered and more centered after some fresh air and exercise, however mild.

Productivity Is Not Important

One of the hardest parts of our prolonged home stay is feeling that I’m not being productive. Thinking of millions of people working so hard to keep us fed and safe and alive makes me feel like a total “useless mouth” (though I’m not signing up to die for the economy, thanks all the same). Quite a few people have shared similar feelings, and some confess to feeling steeped in shame for not using the time to write a novel or at least clean the bathroom. Personally, I’ve been feeling zoned out, stunned into immobility. For weeks, I wondered if I were simply burned out into apathy until something would break through and I’d find myself weeping with all my heart. How can we bear the weight of the world’s suffering? How can we bear the depth of human depravity not to mention stupidity? Well, we can’t. And that’s just fine, for now.  I’ve been reading this comforting, tender and tough minded little essay-ette from YES Magazine over and over for the past few days:

An Anarchist Quaker’s Prayer to Soothe Anxiety

Grow Grow Grow Your Own

In the meantime, just stop looking at all those videos about food handling. Making us afraid of food is unconscionable, especially in such stressful times, when food is considered one of the greatest comforts for most people. Relax! It still can be and should be, since according to the latest information from the Centers For Disease Control, “There is currently no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.” See below for more information on access to food, fresh food handling, and food safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

For now, if you find yourself slipping into food fear (or any other kind, really), put down your device, go outside and plant some greens. Really. You’ll feel better almost immediately and you’ll certainly eat better with lots of fresh greens on hand that don’t need any more decontamination than a swish in cool water and a quick spin dry. Fortunately, nurseries that grow and sell edible plants have been recognized as essential (well duh) so plants and starts are still available. Some nurseries are offering free local delivery, others are letting people call in and pay for orders, then drive through the parking lot for pick up. Take advantage of local options for everyone’s sake (we may save an industry as well as our sanity).

Sunshine And Lettuce

This morning, I’m taking comfort in transplanting young lettuces and kale, and in gleaning the first tiny radishes and baby carrots while thinning crowded pots. We’ve been eating kale daily all winter, and after I pinched back the side shoots (awesome in salads and stir fries) a few weeks ago, our matronly plants are producing new growth already. There have been a few pleasant hours amid the drizzle lately so I dragged a couple of metal chairs into the sunny gravel pad where in former times visitors used to park. Sigh. Anyway, now I can take a break from weeding and chat comfortably with a passing neighbor, who can safely join me (ten feet away) for a few minutes of shared peace. May peace be with you all!

More info:




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3 Responses to Overcoming Fear Of Food

  1. Deirdre says:

    Thank you so much for this as I was becoming totally neurotic about food. I have started planting lots of old veggie seeds from packets, way past their use-by dates and it’s a joy to see them come up. Gardening is a wonderful distraction at this time.

  2. Beth Eisenhood says:

    Ann, your thoughtful comments are appreciated at this time. I had not seen that Fauci interview so was glad to hear it. Thank you!

  3. Una McAlinden says:

    A lovely, comforting read, Ann! I’ve planted my own little victory garden and am taking joy in it.

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