Covid-19 has ostensibly wrought havoc on the food industry, but it may give way to a new subculture within the agriculture market. Farm-to-table markets used to buy crops directly from local farms; however, they are now forced to move their business dealings online with varying success rates, as well as with the threat of bankruptcy hanging over their head, if unsuccessful.
Consumers don’t have access to traditional models, like farmers’ markets and specialty stores, but online marketing offers plenty of brand new opportunities for entrepreneurs with the creativity to seize them. Among other benefits, selling virtually allows consumers to have organic fruits and vegetables delivered to their homes and allows them more of a selection to choose from instantaneously. The convenience of ordering fruits and vegetables in these virtual markets is that it makes the local produce industry more accessible to those who would not have the time or the means to access it in a brick-and-mortar location.
Now there is more demand for local crops from the average layman, accompanying a decreasing demand from local chefs and restaurants. The food market, in turn, must make allowances for the change in demographic and completely overhaul the previous conventions of the food industry. Covid-19 has sparked an unprecedented surge in home cooking; fewer people are frequenting restaurants due to the risk factor involved. A Hunter survey showed that more than half of respondents said that they were cooking at home more than they had before quarantine, turning family dinners into family meals, occurring more often. Among those who have been cooking more, more than half of those asked reported that they would continue their cooking habit post-quarantine, most often reasoning that it was healthier and more cost-effective to do so.
Although the restaurant industry has taken a necessary blow, dealing business online opens the door to more correspondences on an individual basis. Apps, such as “Menutables”, offer more chances than ever to eat authentic, home-cooked meals from all cultures and walks of life.
Luckily, home cooking has proven to have lasting effects on both physical and mental health. According to a study published by Public Health Nutrition in November 2014, those who regularly cook at home consume 150 fewer calories per day and largely consume healthier foods. Conversely, those who eat out more often were shown to have diets lacking in core food groups. In this way, Covid-19 has had a positive impact on dietary health. This allows the individual to take charge of their own diet, by choosing what goes in their food instead of allowing a food chain to add anything they want to it for a low charge. It creates diversity in the food that they are able to order out. Instead of relying on delivery services and fast food options, consumers have the freedom to choose. Plus, with individuals cooking their own meals at home, this allows for better portion control and becomes more cost effective in the long run than using takeout services or restaurants. Cooking from home also builds confidence and expands your repertoire of knowledge in food preparation and possibly other food cultures, leading to better mental health. It creates a peculiar juxtaposition between the innate negative impacts of Coronavirus and the unexpected positive effects of social distancing.
Although the restaurant industry has taken a necessary blow, dealing business online opens the door to more correspondences on an individual basis. Apps, such as “Menutables”, offer more chances than ever to eat authentic, home-cooked meals from all cultures and walks of life. If you can order crops from a local farm online, who’s to say that you can’t order homegrown fruits and vegetables from your neighbor, or a small-time gardening enthusiast downtown? Stretching it even further, who’s to say that you can’t buy meals from local chefs online? Small scale chefs, farmers, and gardeners who wouldn’t have otherwise gotten any exposure pre-quarantine can now develop rapport with locals without even contacting any vendors, effectively cutting out the middleman. They deal directly with their customers, and money that they make from their product travels directly between them, without any risk of exploitation or price gouging. This also eliminates any sort of risk in terms of meeting and handling orders with customers in person. Local chefs and farmers are able to set a price point for their products through this platform and have their goods be ordered by community members online. Community members can also preview local products to determine if they would like to place an order. This opens doors for small-scale farms and local chefs to showcase their foods that may have been unable to reach such a large audience otherwise. Using this kind of app allows for consumers to purchase fruits and vegetables of a quality they can keep track of and understand. It also conveniently features delivery services that may be offered by the local chef or farmer. In turn, fresh meals and fresh, organic produce can be attainable from the click of a button. It can either be picked up by the customer or delivered directly to their door. This also allows for stimulation to the local community and economy, by helping out small farmers, chefs and gardeners that otherwise would have gone unnoticed by the wider community. As a result of platforms such as Menutables, local farmers will not face the threat of losing business when they are unable to sell their produce face-to-face. This allows for a contactless method to exist, even for local farmers that are looking to gain business and provide local community members with organic vegetables.
Even putting convenience and cost-effectiveness aside, there is a charming, comfortable novelty that comes from having farm-fresh crops or home cooked meals delivered from people near you; friends and neighbors whom you know and trust and need the support now more than ever. If you have a favorite local farm or local chef, apps such as Menutables make it extremely easy to purchase directly from those individuals. Not only does this make it easier to support local businesses, but it also makes it easier to purchase farm fresh foods at any time from any location. Ordering from home doesn’t have to be unhealthy or unreasonably expensive. Support your local chefs and farmers by visiting the Menutaples app or website.