I’m watching a lot more TV than I usually do, a combination of keeping up to date with the situation and that, in a smaller living area than we are used to, it isn’t half a kilometre away at the other end of the room and I can actually see it whilst I’m preparing/eating dinner. Two things I saw last night made me realise anew how fortunate I am: reports of two-hour queues for food banks, and Jamie’s new cookery show. Yes, I know you either love or hate Jamie but I like him, particularly his enthusiasm – he always eats what he cooks and looks like he enjoys his food, as do I. Besides, the remote was the other end of the room and his show follows the news.
I went to the supermarket yesterday. Not only did I not have to queue (I was there before 8am) but I didn’t have to worry about whether I had enough money to buy what I needed. And a lot of what I wanted, depending on your view as to whether anyone needs three packets of Tim Tams. I’m a long way from needing the services of a food bank but I know it could easily be me and I’m grateful it’s not.
Some of Jamie’s comments re shortages surprised me. Okay, it’s impossible to find flour in a recognisable bag (there’s no shortage of flour but suppliers can’t get the packaging so supermarkets are buying in bulk and re-packing in plastic bags) and yeast, which Jamie always reminds us is a living thing, seems to have toddled off the shelves in search of adventure. Oh, and apparently there’s no mixed spice (a lady told me, something to do with Easter and baking hot cross buns) which I wasn’t looking for, but I was looking for black peppercorns. Neil puts black pepper on everything and I don’t want to have to tell him he has to stop. May as well tell him there’s no beer.
We have few shortages. The basics are all there, no problems with tinned tomatoes or rice and pasta, and shelves are piled with fresh fruit and veg, the benefit of the season and that most food in NZ is produced in the country. Until our first trip back to the UK after moving here I hadn’t thought about how much of their fresh produce comes from overseas – much here only travels a few km. Jamie said he couldn’t get broccoli – ours is grown in the Horowhenua, just outside Wellington and the only time we had a supply issue was a few years ago when we had so much rain (the religious guy down the road started building an ark and we wondered if he knew something we didn’t) the fields flooded.
In the current situation it’s easy to become insular and, despite continual entreaties to be kind, forget about others. When shopping I normally chuck a few cans in the trolley to feed the bins for the food bank. I didn’t even think about it yesterday, although in retrospect I didn’t expect them to be in use. Here in NZ we often bemoan our distance from others, how long it takes to travel anywhere. But now I realise how incredibly lucky we are that our food chain is hardly impacted by our isolation, and for that we should be thankful. We just need to make sure that we share what we have with those who currently can’t afford to buy it.