This past Saturday, I left my tiny village in the Hudson Valley for the first time in six weeks. I’m not normally phobic about germs, but we’re taking the stay home orders seriously around here. My husband has done all our grocery shopping the last six weeks, and except for solo farm box pick ups and safe door-to-door delivery, I haven’t been anywhere in public.
I realize what a privilege this is. Thousands of women, many of them mothers, have to leave their home to work, collect food, and feed their families. While half the world is complaining about home-schooling and gaining weight from all the pasta and bread they’re eating, the other half is lined up at makeshift school feeding programs, just to get their children lunch. I think about, worry about, pray for and in all ways possible, aim to support local and national programs to aid these very families. The need is dire.
I felt like it was time to stop living without any real concept of what the world felt like out there, six week’s into our nation’s quarantine. So to the farmer’s market I went, masked, with my two masked children in tow – and a strict set of rules for them to follow. We went over it again and again – what 6 feet looks like (exaggerated by double for my five-year-old), why we wouldn’t touch or come near anyone. When I felt they understood, we found ourselves with our new Feed Market Tote, at our first outdoor market since last summer, eager to fill it up with greens and seedlings and freshly grown things – the kinds of foods we’ve been missing.
At first, it felt good to live in the world again. To hold my car keys in my hands, to have somewhere to go. The market, tiny and outdoors, was well marked for plenty of distance. It seemed like a safe first outing. We pointed to the produce from 15 feet away while the farmer’s filled our tote. Per protocol, we made our own change. It seemed very optimistic – being out, seeing people from a wave-able distance.
But as I waited the 15 long minutes for each of the people in our six-foot-apart line to queue in front of us, I observed the masked public, taking the long way around each other. The eyes of suspicion and fear. A woman held her dog’s leash tightly as her small pup lurched toward another dog, eager to lick and sniff and play. Like us, they’re social creatures. Staying apart is hard. It’s not how we’re wired.
In the end, it was too stressful to keep my small son from racing toward dogs and people and piles of spinach. He’s not old enough to fear things he can not see. Viruses and the invisible threats of humanity don’t phase him, yet. So we filled our giant tote completely at the first farmer’s stand, and made a bee-line for our car, where we drove further out to the waterfront, away from people. We fed the ducks, stood in the sunshine, masks down around our necks, not covering our smiles.
It’s not lost on me that this simple choice to safely, quietly step away from threat is a deep privilege, reserved for those who have enough. It can’t be taken for granted, nor can we lose sight of the needs of others in the process.
Like almost everyone, I long to live in a world where people aren’t afraid of one another. Where we don’t feel like a hug is a threat to our families’ safety. Where my five-year-old’s reckless energy doesn’t send folks scattering in fear.
These are hard times. But most of us are extremely fortunate to have our hardships be emotional, only trying to understand how we live in this new world.
I know this: this is not forever. And the one thing I want to teach my children is first, gratitude for our many gifts, in even our hardest times – and a sense of responsibility to care for those whose struggles are far more painful and aching than any we’ve ever known. Hunger, loss, grief, want.
We can work together to make sure no one does without, not now, and not when the masks come down, either. But it will take every single one of us to make it happen.
One way we can do this is by choosing to support products that give back – like the FEED Oversized Market Tote, which helps feed 50 children in need with every purchase. It’s a small but important step – making our thoughts and purchases consider the well-being of others.
Now tell me your ideas – how are you helping those in need around you today, and what more can we all be doing to make our world a safe, nourishing place for every family?
Shop the Oversized Market Tote here.
ABOUT SARAH COPELAND
Sarah Copeland is the award-winning author of the books Feast, The Newlywed Cookbook, and Every Day is Saturday (coming June 2019) which exemplify her standard for gorgeous photography, luscious recipes, and simple luxuries. The former Food Director at Real Simple magazine and a Food Network veteran, Sarah currently lives in the Hudson Valley with her young family, where she tries (and fails) at fruit farming and excels at hosting raucous, twinkly-light dinner parties for friends. Sarah is a long time friend of FEED and a frequent FEED Supper host. Learn more at Edibleliving.com.
Sarah's new books: