In early 2020, daily grocery shopping changed dramatically as Canadian provinces declared public health emergencies and pandemic restrictions came into force.
face the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 (new coronavirus infectious disease)many people across Canada and around the world began stockpiling food and other products.
This was the beginning of a series of effects the pandemic is having on our diet.
To better understand food-related decisions during the pandemic, our research team conducted an online survey on a sample of adults in Quebec.
The survey spans three different points in time, from the initial lockdown in spring 2020 through the Quebec stay-at-home period in winter 2021.
Our research showed that people purchased food from stores less frequently in the early days of the pandemic.
This decline came in parallel with an increase in curbside pickups and deliveries. The general rise in popularity of contactless grocery sales methods is not unique to Canada and may be due to people trying to limit their exposure to the virus.
Our research suggests that in-store shopping frequency returned to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2020. However, the use of contactless grocery methods is expected to persist in a substantial portion of the population.
The pandemic has changed not only how we buy food, but also the motivation behind that purchase. As future surveys will show, more than three-quarters of his survey respondents said their desire to support local food retailers has increased compared to 2019.
Additionally, 68% of them placed more importance on the country of origin of the food.
Respondents also said food safety and price, as well as environmental and ethical impacts, motivate their purchasing decisions.
Major social changes, such as restaurant closures, homeschooling, and telecommuting, have been accompanied by increased frequency of home cooking and improved food-related skills such as cooking and meal planning. Many Canadians are learning new recipes, and baking is often reported to be growing in popularity due to a significant increase in online searches for bread recipes in the first few weeks of the pandemic (this is , remained higher than pre-pandemic into 2021). .
Improvements in eating-related skills were most pronounced among families. This is likely due to increased children’s participation in cooking activities during lockdown.
Additionally, in a future survey, more than one-third of survey respondents cited increased time and motivation to cook, the comfort and enjoyment they derive from eating, and Identified dietary interests.
Better cooking skills and more frequent home cooking may be considered beneficial, but they had their drawbacks. I saw. This is reflected in an increase in his take-out or delivery orders for prepared foods in early 2021 compared to 2020.
effect of pandemic Eating behavior varies from individual to individual. On the one hand, food seems to have been used as a source of comfort and as a way to avoid boredom during the pandemic lockdown.
More than a quarter of respondents reported (in their own words) that they had a greater desire to eat during the pandemic compared to before because they were at home and always around food.
On the other hand, some respondents reported a reduced desire to eat. The main reasons for this change were stress, anxiety and lack of motivation to cook.
The lockdowns also had a range of health impacts on food choices. reported consuming more healthy foods.
However, some people seem to be taking advantage of the pandemic lockdown to make healthier food choices.
Unhealthy changes may have been offset by increased consumption of healthier foods such as fruits and vegetables, legumes and cereals.
The wide range of dietary-related changes may be partially explained by the different impacts of the pandemic on individual circumstances. It is possible that more changes in eating behavior were observed in people whose normal working conditions were disrupted by the pandemic, such as unemployment and transitions to working from home.
Additionally, given the unexpected outbreak of COVID-19, most studies had to compare participants’ eating habits during lockdown with their memories of pre-pandemic habits. However, these memories do not always match reality perfectly.
Vulnerable groups may be underrepresented in most studies of the food-related impacts of the pandemic. Future research is needed to understand how it changes over time.
Only time will tell if the shift in our food-related values and skills will be permanent or will fade as we return to pre-pandemic life.
The pandemic may have brought positive changes to our relationships and skills with food. Continued support for local food helps promote healthy eating and food system sustainability.
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