It has shown just how vulnerable we are and taught us many valuable lessons on how to be better prepared for future crisis. Almost overnight back in March, the entire world was plunged into uncharted waters, everyone from governments, the entire medical system, multinational food companies, artists, musicians, teachers, publicans, chefs…all scrambled to cope with unprecedented challenges. The shock of coping with the heartbreak of bereavements, the prospect of loosing a job, racking our brains to think of other income streams to survive - our lives changed beyond recognition.
This experience has forced us to pause and to readjust our priorities, to realise how futile it is to waste our lives embroiled in never ending battles for wealth, status and power.
The brilliant thing is that even in a pandemic we all need to eat.
Restaurants have reinvented themselves offering take outs, meal kits and family suppers. Food trucks are popping up everywhere, from Ballynamona Strand to Inishowen serving everything from fish and chips to ramen and fajitas.
Farmers Markets have quite rightly been declared an essential service. Branches of NeighbourFood, the online Farmers Market started by Jack Crotty in Barrack Street in Cork in early 2019 are popping up all over the country and now also in the UK.
Newspapers, on-line websites, Click and Collect options continue to be introduced by locally owned Irish businesses. The ongoing crisis has also created a myriad of opportunities for people to start little businesses at home in their spare room, garden shed, garage or kitchen. Many have discovered entrepreneurial genes they never realised they had, desperation has fuelled creativity.
Buying local has turned into a mainstream trend. Lockdown has forced us to explore what’s available in our local area and wow, what treasures we have discovered. Local butchers, bakers, farmers, fish smokers, artisan preservers, honey producers….
So over Christmas, many people were on a mission to buy only local produce and crafts. The penny has really dropped that money spent in small local shops, saves jobs, creates opportunities and leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than giant retailers flying products in from all over the world. More than 2/3 of the €5 billion we spend on- line every year disappears overseas, whereas every €100 spent in the local shop is worth €500 in real terms to the local community, how good does that feel?
So let’s continue this collective mind-set and be proud of the difference our contribution can make to where we live.