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My Strategy for Grocery Shopping While Sheltering in Place

4 ways I'm sourcing food without exposing others.

The last time Jonah and I went to a grocery store was in early March. Despite checkout lines that literally went out the door, the shelves were well-stocked and we were able to purchase enough groceries to last us a little over two weeks. But the close-proximity to tens of other shoppers and clerks was enough to prompt me to look into alternative options as soon as we had put the groceries away (and washed our hands). 

Over the course of the past month, Jonah and I have developed a strategy for acquiring food that involves a mental calculus, as we take into account delayed delivery schedules and difficult-to-find essentials like flour, careful meal planning (so that we never order more than we need), and our desire to support local businesses, all while having enough food. And the "ethical calculus," as this Atlantic piece points out, can be nearly as difficult to unravel. While it isn't entirely clear what the "best" course of action is for acquiring food, Jonah and I have adopted an approach that limits our social interaction as much as possible, while minimizing deliveries without stockpiling, and supports local businesses whenever possible. Every city, and even neighborhood, looks different right now, and I acknowledge that while it may be more difficult for Jonah and me to walk outside our front door, we also have more resources than most when it comes to food options. Our grocery shopping strategy probably doesn't look identical to yours, but I'm sharing it in the hopes that you can find a tip in here that helps you! Here's the four-part grocery shopping strategy I'm using right now: 

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Jonah and I keep a running cart open on Thrive, an online delivery service for organic pantry staples and frozen meats, for staples like flour, dry active yeast, coconut milk, nut butters, honey, beans, and miscellaneous snacks. Every few weeks, we hit "purchase," before we actually run out of the items since they're experiencing delayed shipping times of 7 to 10 days. 

If we need something earlier, we've also called a bakery a few blocks from us and been able to purchase all-purpose flour over the phone for pick-up. 

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The vast majority of our food comes from a a farm CSA Jonah and I signed up for at the start of sheltering in place. We have Farm Fresh to You scheduled to come every week. There are tons of local CSA options in California, but I prefer this one since it allows you to customize your box each week so you only get what you need. Our first order came a few days late, but arrived with the most heartfelt note from the owners, Mayra and Thaddeus, thanking us for supporting their farms and company!

As soon as it arrives, I carefully store the vegetables, turning herbs into pesto, wrapping lettuces in damp dish towels in our crisper drawer, and cooking others or even turning them into soups which I then freeze.

Here's a great list of services that deliver fresh vegetables. 

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Once every few weeks, Jonah and I place a pick-up order from a Sprouts near our apartment. The process is fairly seamless—we pull up to the store and a grocery store worker places our bags in the trunk of our car to minimize the number of people in the store. We try to keep our orders fairly simple. Last time, we bought: ground turkey, frozen wild-caught salmon, chicken thighs, tons of eggs, milk, and unsalted butter. 

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In a win-win effort to support some of our favorite local restaurants and bakeries and treat ourselves, Jonah and I have been splurging about once a week on a restaurant delivery. Each time we do this, we try to choose a local restaurant with dishes that are conducive to mixing-and-matching into additional meals. We've ordered a whole rotisserie chicken and sides from Kismet, bread and vegetable sides from Tartine, and ordered bread plus a chicken dinner from Republique on our "wedding" night as a special treat. If you're getting delivery, please remember to tip generously, if you're able to, and coordinate the delivery in a way that's not only safe for you, but also safe for the person bringing food to your door. 


Needless to say, none of this is perfect. As the Atlantic article I mentioned above puts it, "no perfectly ethical options exist for eating during a pandemic," but I'm doing my best to seek-out the most ethical solutions I'm able to. 

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