Coronavirus, Food Insecurity, and the Rising Interest in Growing Healthy Food At Home

Published Apr 28, 2020

The global novel coronavirus pandemic has changed everyone’s daily life. Some are working from home. Many are donning masks whenever they go out in public and wearing latex gloves when grocery shopping. Others are simply ordering groceries for delivery and not risking exposure to the general public when they need to restock their pantries. And, just about everyone, is preparing more meals at home than they used to. 

It is easy to see the day-to-day impact of social distancing and sheltering-in-place. However, there are similarly important changes taking place in the way people think about the future. They are rethinking whether things they once took for granted will always be available. Access to the local grocery store is suddenly on that list. We have heard from a number of new Gardyners that this was a motivation for them to start growing their own fresh produce at home.

The Sudden Onset of Food Insecurity

Many Americans faced food insecurity for the first time as a result of the pandemic. The United States Department of Agriculture reported last fall that 88.9% of U.S. households were food secure in 2018. That figure was up from 88.2% in 2017. In 2018, only about 11% of U.S. households were food insecure which is defined as, “At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.”

The impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus introduced all Americans to a more expansive definition of food insecurity. Even those with resources faced uncertainty in acquiring food due to disruptions in freedom of movement along with shocks to the food supply chain. And, with the record unemployment claims of the past month, the number of food insecure households is sure to rise further as family budgets are squeezed. Organizations such as Feeding America which has over 200 affiliated food banks have seen a surge in demand. 

Taking Control of Your Food Sources for Better Health

For those not dependent on food banks, coronavirus has caused them to think about their food sources in a new way. The U.S. food supply chain seems to have bounced back from the initial shock with many store shelves now restocked. But, there are many people that would like to reduce their grocery store trips to decrease their risk of coronavirus exposure. The challenge with this approach is access to fresh produce. Because store-bought produce has a short shelf life, it requires frequent restocking and that means more trips to the grocery store. Canned vegetables are typically high in sodium and have lost much of their nutrient value before consumption. Frozen and canned vegetables are a substitute some families are making do with, but they are not ideal in terms of nutrition or flavor.

This has caused some people to turn to Gardyn. Our first note along these lines was from a woman in Seattle. She told us that the idea of providing fresh greens, fruits, and herbs from something in her own home offered her peace of mind. We saw other social posts from new and would-be Gardyners in New York and throughout the country that recounted having trouble getting a time slot for grocery delivery and that many stores were low on produce. 

Gardyn is well suited to meet these needs. The cutting-edge technology it leverages makes it possible for anyone to grow their own food, with specific skills required or time investment. The Gardyn software looks after your plants 24 hours a day: it optimizes their growth and lets you know if there is anything you need to do, and when it is ready to harvest. As we are fond of saying, “Gardyn has a green thumb so you don’t have to.” 

Gardyners spend just a few minutes per month tending to their produce. Mostly, they just harvest and eat delicious food at its peak of nutrition. You can reduce your trips to the grocery store if you grow your own fresh product at home. At the same time, you can increase your food security and your health. 

When we set out to reinvent the food supply chain in America, we were focused on increasing the availability of nutritious and tasty produce while simultaneously reducing the impact of industrial farming on the environment. It turns out that food security is another value we are offering families today, that the COVID crisis has stressed big time.

Social Distancing Expected to Last Through the Summer

While some states are taking tentative steps to reopen their economies, the Washington Post reports that, “Some form of social distancing will probably remain in place through the summer, Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator, said Sunday.” COVID-19 is expected to be around and a threat to public health until there is an effective vaccine some 18 months or more down the road. 

This means our new normal is not likely to revert to our old normal anytime soon. Reuters even reported that we could see vegetable shortages and rising prices in the coming months as distributors cannot receive shipments due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus policy measures. 

Because Gardyn supports food production, the government asked us to remain open and shipping despite the coronavirus shelter-in-place orders. We have responded to that request by expanding our team and continuing to ship new Gardyns within about a week of order placement. We are proud to play our part in the response and provide assistance and peace of mind to many new Gardyners that are now assured of fresh produce availability. We are also happy that those same Gardyners now have even more nutritious vegetables and fruits on hand than they ever did in the old normal.  

If you have any questions about how Gardyn is helping families grow their own good, I recommend you check out our mission and our overview. Also, send us a note anytime through the website or on social media. We are happy to talk. 

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