The pandemic, which is still currently ongoing, has irrevocably changed the way we eat, according to a pearl-clutching report from the New York Times. Specifically: In a time of crisis, Americans have returned to the loving embrace of junk food.
According to the Times, the dark months of early quarantine led to a 30 percent increase in sales of cookies and crackers, which hasn’t quite slowed. Many Americans are still working from home and are therefore responsible for their own food choices. The habits established in the early stages of quarantine are still playing out across grocery store shelves now, the Times reports:
Campbell’s reaped a 93 percent increase in sales of its canned soup before settling back to a still-amazing 32 percent growth. At General Mills, breakfast cereal jumped 29 percent in late March, and jumped again to 37 percent in the third week of April. Deep into the pandemic, we were still buying 51 percent more frozen waffles, pancakes and French toast from Kellogg’s. And so on.
Looking at these numbers, one can assume that outside of nostalgia, people are still relying on processed and frozen foods that they don’t have to make themselves because making food is now a chore. Sure, a lot of people conspicuously leaned hard into a sourdough-forward lifestyle, and used their ample amounts of free time to grow scallions on the windowsill and get really into grain bowls, but assuming that the great bread-making experiment of early 2020 was anything other than a complicated way of staving off boredom is a leap. But the Times doesn’t take this into account, instead choosing to paint “Big Food” as the villain. “We may think that we turned a corner on our eating habits with all that sourdough baking we did, but Big Food isn’t about to let us off its hook that easily,” Michael Moss writes.
Homemade sourdough bread birthed from a starter that your neighbor’s sister’s aunt placed on your front stoop is still bread. Good, warm, homemade bread tastes delicious enough to eat half a loaf before noon without thinking much about it at all. Is that healthier than eating three Oreos in a daze between conference calls? Maybe it is. But also, who cares? Bending over backwards to avoid buying Fig Newtons at the grocery store is an inefficient use of energy and time; if you want the Fig Newtons, put them in the cart and atone for your perceived “sins” later.