Coronavirus and your food
We hope you are safe and healthy as we all make our way through these scary, uncertain times with COVID-19 (aka coronavirus). Even though events are being cancelled and trips postponed – and more and more people are working from home – there are some upsides to our current situation if you find yourself feeling healthy.
If you aren’t feeling well, please know there is still confusing information online and tests are not readily available yet – at least in the U.S. Unless you are feeling incredibly ill, your best bet is probably to rest and relax at home. Outlets like The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are providing live updates on the situation to everyone, whether or not you are a subscriber, so you can stay informed. But don’t watch or read too much news!
I haven’t been feeling well for the past couple of days and know the stress and uncertainty of what’s happening has been making me feel worse. I don’t have the symptoms (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath), so I’ve been doing my best to take care of myself. If you do have symptoms, call or email your doctor’s office first.
If you don’t have a regular doctor, call an urgent care or emergency room in your area to get advice on what to do. Just know that there is still a lot of confusion so be persistent – and do not just go to an emergency room if you have symptoms. Make sure to alert medical staff if you are coming in.
You can also help yourself by boosting your immune system. Personal and executive coach Jeanette Bronee sent me her favorite recipe to feel better. All you need are ginger, anise (I used allspice because it was in the cupboard), cinnamon sticks, and raw honey (put in your cup after making the brew) – a couple days sipping on that and I feel so much better. (You can also add cayenne for kick and/or lemon juice.) Her article gives detailed instructions on how to make it.
And check out the latest article by Wen-Jay Ying from Local Roots with Alina Zolotareva RDN on how to boost your immune system through food. It focuses on foods that can help you feel better.
If you’re interested in learning more about the coronavirus, Boma Global is hosting a 20-hour FREE online COVID-19 Virtual Summit on March 23rd starting at 2am eastern from New Zealand and ending 8pm eastern in the United States. The livestream will be coming from 10 countries and 10 different Boma communities, including New Zealand, Japan, China, Canada, India, Poland, France, Portugal, Brazil and the U.S.
Register and find out more. If you haven’t heard of Boma yet, you will! It’s a new global community of change makers and action takers. And there’s a connection between Boma and Change Food – announcement coming next month!….
If You Have to Stay Home
If you do have to stay home for whatever reason and you are feeling generally okay, there are so many things you can do to keep from getting bored, such as:
- Make those dishes you’ve been wanting to try. Get that Instant Pot or Air Fryer off the shelf and learn how to use them. Make extra food and share with your friends and neighbors.
- Learn new techniques. Tired of nearly cutting off a finger every time you cut an onion? Learn how chefs do it.
- Bake! Cakes, cookies, pies. Need I say more?
- Volunteer! Organizations like Change Food can always use help with research, writing and social media. Find your favorite organization and offer your time. If you’re more hands on, call a local senior center or food pantry and see if they need help. As people become sick with the virus, there will be a need for healthy people to help and do things like prepare, serve and/or deliver meals.
- Clean out your food cupboards. I mean, when did you buy those spices? I recently found some from 2007! And if you do buy new ones, mark the date on the jar so next time you check, you’ll know how old they are.
- Clean out your fridge and freezer. Post the findings from your archeological dig on your Instagram account.
- Develop a health plan. If you want to eat better every New Year but life gets in the way, now is the time. Learn about your microbiome, take that dive into weekday plant-based eating, discover Intermittent Fasting. Create a vision board for your health.
- Research. Do you know when and where your local farmer’s market is? Do you know if or where there is a composting program near you? If not, google it! If you have a garden, now is a great time to figure out what to plant and when to plant it.
How You Can Help
This is a scary time for a lot of people, so we need to remember we are all going through this together, and there are things you can do to help yourself and others.
- If you are healthy and you want to help, find or set up a group in your neighborhood to help those in need. There have been stories of elderly people sitting in their cars crying outside grocery stores because they’re afraid to go in, young women from other affected countries stranded here and running out of money – there are people around you who need help. Organize a group of volunteers to shop for elderly or immunocompromised neighbors or otherwise help how you can. I’m currently organizing a group where I live and we’ll post out best practices and what we discover shortly. You can also email us at EastVillageNeighbors (at) gmail (dot) com to let us know what you’re doing or to pass along any info. We’re all in this together so let’s help each other.
- For people who have some type of cold or flu — or who just aren’t feeling well for whatever reason — we need to stay inside and severely limit exposure to other people until we’re better. Because testing is so limited right now, no one knows what those of us who aren’t feeling well are carrying. And as we’re finding out, it’s not about us getting sick as much as it is about us infecting other people who are susceptible to the coronavirus.
- I’m sure no one wants to hear this — but we seem to be about 10 days behind Italy, the country on full lockdown, so even people who feel healthy should be indoors and away from other people as much as humanly possible. You could be a carrier, so you might feel fine — and you might never come down with symptoms — but you could be what’s called a vector (a carrier) and you could unknowingly infect someone else who is immune compromised or who is susceptible to the virus. So staying indoors and washing your hands a lot, even if you feel healthy, is the best way you can help stop the spread of the virus. Please take this to heart and know this is about helping others stay safe as much as it is about you staying healthy.
- Do you personally know any older or immunocompromised neighbors near you? If so, how about giving them a call or knock through the door to see if they need anything, even if it’s just someone to talk with. If you visit face to face, just keep 3 to 6 feet apart. Walk their dogs if they’re not feeling well or even if they’re simply scared to go outside for any reason. Share some extra food from all those meals you’ll be cooking.
- If you have older or immunocompromised friends or family anywhere in the world, check in with them to make sure they’re okay. Even a Facebook message can go a long way to helping someone feel less scared and alone.
- Restaurants are being hit hard by this pandemic; both owners and workers are affected. If you want to help, buy gift certificates from a few of your favorite establishments. Use them when things are safer, or give the certificates to friends to remind them how much they mean to you.
- And remember that many people work at jobs that do not pay if the person can’t work, so think of anyone you might know in that situation who might be struggling and out of work. Do what you can to help. And that doesn’t mean you have to give them money — but share extras, see if they want that item you’re going to throw away or give to Goodwill.
- If you’re in that situation yourself and you’re worried about getting food or other things, go onto Facebook and see if there’s a Buy Nothing group in your neighborhood. I live in the middle of New York City in what can be a very isolating place, and my local Buy Nothing group is a neighborhood full of people who care. Ask for what you need — even if it’s a sandwich! Everything is free on the group and I guarantee you there will be someone with leftovers from the day before who’d be happy to share. It’s an amazing community. If you don’t have a group in your area, start one!
- In addition, search this map for food pantries in your area.
- And, please, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. I was between jobs a few years ago and was feeling down and wondering how I was going to pay rent. I was at my local park and a man came up to me with a huge plate of hot food. The Hare Krishna’s often give meals to people in the area. I’ve never taken food from anyone, but when I looked at this man, he had such kindness in his eyes. There was no judgement, no pity — he really wanted to give me the food. I took it and enjoyed it — and I understand now that I wasn’t taking a handout; I was accepting a gift from someone who wanted to give. It’s an amazing experience to be on the receiving end — I highly recommend you try it, especially if you need it.
- And no matter where you are or what you need to do, please make sure to take good care of yourself and wash your hands often. I’m still supporting my nearby shops by ordering in when I can. I want to tell you to go in person to support local restaurants because they work on such slim margins, but I think everyone needs to evaluate their local situation and decide for themselves what the best option is. Things are changing every few hours.
- And lastly, don’t hoard! I mean, do you really need to buy all that toilet paper off Amazon?? And why toilet paper??… There are other people living around you who also need sanitizer and tissues and food, so buy what you need but don’t stock up for the apocalypse.
Remember, we’re all in this together. Reach out if you need something or if you have something to give.
And to end on a light note, check out Trevor Noah’s Daily Show piece on the coronavirus — and toilet paper.