For the first time since I’ve lived in my downtown Toronto home, I can hear birdsong. It’s not just because reduced noise pollution is allowing me to hear birds in the distance; they’re actually coming right into our little backyard to perch and chatter and sing. Their presence is symptomatic of a global change in animal behaviour, and it’s all down to a global change in human behaviour. This shift may be temporary, but it doesn’t have to be. There are ways of being that we can carry with us into the post-pandemic world.
Bolstering local economies becomes essential when we look at the collapse of international markets. This is already happening in the form of Canada Takeout Day for restaurants across the country, but we are also seeing it among small farms, setting up food hubs to bring their products directly to their consumers. A local mindset will be even more crucial when businesses reopen and we all return to work. Those which will need us most are small business who rely on their local clientele for sales.
My household has not seen any food go to waste during our quarantine. We are often guilty of buying something and forgetting about it at the back of the fridge until it’s too late, but now, with grocery runs a somewhat stressful endeavour and a full fridge and pantry a must, we are more aware than ever about what we have and when it needs to be used by. This is not only environmental sustainability, but does our wallets good as well. When we do go out for groceries, we know what we need, how much of it we need, and how long it will last us. (And I might add that this has never been more true of our toilet paper inventory.)
Have your social media feeds been inundated with friends’ pictures of their homemade bread, small-time garden projects, and masks sewn from old t-shirts? There’s something about being stuck inside, away from malls and supermarkets, that makes people realize that they can do things themselves, whether it’s baking, crafting, repairing, growing, or some other activity. We don’t often think of consumerism as a confining aspect of our daily lives — rather it’s been sold to us as a kind of freedom — but learning to be self-sufficient is empowering, not to mention addictive. Once you learn that locally-grown tomatoes beat store-bought every time, there’s no going back.
Delivery, Takeout & Relationships with Guests
Becoming change: few other businesses have had to adapt as quickly as restaurants. For too many restaurants the reality of this pandemic is that it’s do-or-die for owners and operators. Disaster-mode has meant ad-hoc restauranting pivots, aggressive lobbying (to ensure government understands our plight), and an outpouring of support from guests who want to patronize and support their favourite establishments. These disruptions are sure to inform the new normal.