Finding comfort in online food during lockdown

Finding comfort in online food during lockdown

The author of this post is Ben Ebbrell, Co-founder of Sortedfood. Sortedfood run a global members club which helps people to live the ultimate food lifestyle. They also have a YouTube channel where they share food-related videos with their 2.3 million subscribers. 

These are unprecedented times

It’s truly amazing how much can change in just a few weeks. At the time of writing we’re being told by our national leaders that this unprecedented pandemic is unlike anything we’ve seen in peace time. The first time in a generation that there is a genuine need for us to do what humans do best. We need to unite together, have compassion for one another and find a way through it. At Sortedfood we believe that food is a tool that we could use to help in these tough times. And perhaps one solution to our uncertain future can be found in what we were already celebrating before.

The importance of community

Sortedfood has never gone viral. We’ve spent over ten years on YouTube, and other social media platforms, encouraging and nurturing one of the most incredibly powerful things: a community. A gang of global foodies who engage with entertaining, inspiring and ‘accidentally educational’ food and cooking related content. However, the food isn’t really the point. It’s just a tasty catalyst to start the conversation and the hook that keeps people coming back time and time again is friendship. We’re the friend you trust to give you sound advice in both the best of times and the more challenging ones. The friend that makes you laugh. The friend that listens as much as they share their own tales. The friend that is there for you, a helping hand to take the stress out of everyday life. So consistently present, in fact, that some members of our online community speak and interact with us more regularly than they do with their own friends. This direct and loyal relationship with the digital generation is invaluable right now.

Sharing the love…via food

And then there’s food! Food is something that we universally depend on to fuel our active bodies and minds. And yet, we are not taught sufficiently about nutrition or equipped with the skills and techniques required to cook for ourselves as smartly as perhaps we ought to. That said, we all have opinions on food and we’re consuming more of it than ever before, not just in calories eaten, but also content online. We’re passionate and proud to share the food that means something to us personally. Plus it has the power to connect a global community online during a time when physical interaction has been advised against.

How social media spreads the virus

While chatting to our community online, one wise individual, Annie, pointed out that social media is spreading the issue of Covid-19 faster than the actual virus itself. Simplified or falsified information, photos of empty grocery shelves and ‘out of context’ or manipulated stats can be shared and read thousands, or even millions, of times before the scientific truth, which is often more carefully considered and nuanced, has had a chance to be fact-checked. The result… increasing the likelihood of amplifying anxiety, panic and uncertainty in the minds of those having to isolate or for those whose holiday, jobs or even loved ones could be at risk. This comes at a time in society when we are becoming so addicted to social media that even the platforms designed to draw our attention are themselves having to implement measures to track and limit personal usage. We are only too aware of the damage to mental wellbeing that self-isolation can have. Cabin Fever is now a reality, rather than just an average film on Netflix to while away the hours .

Stick to your routines

We should find ways to replicate the same things we’d do normally through virtual gatherings. Grab a coffee and have a catchup with a family member, enjoy a pint and pub quiz with friends or head to a restaurant to sample your favourite cuisine. All of these things can be emulated remotely using technology, and food can be present with all. Why not pop and season some corn kernels or crisp up some baked potato skins for your virtual pub quiz? Or encourage a group of friends to all cook the same dish this evening and then gather online to eat together?

…and sometimes break habits

It’s been previously reported that we are all creatures of habit and that we actually only know a handful of recipes each. Now with more time on our hands we can experiment a little more. What if you spent the time you’d typically use to commute to work on food preparation instead? All of a sudden, the kind of recipes that would usually be too time-consuming and fiddly midweek are well within reach. Not to mention fairly therapeutic and relaxing. For instance, kneading bread or pasta dough, shaping tortellini or ravioli, crafting and sealing handmade dim sum or pierogi dumplings or rolling sushi. They’re all centered around simple, affordable, store-cupboard ingredients.

Keep Calm and Keep Talking

Most importantly, remember what makes any community strong is the connections and caring. It’s certainly what made us so proud of the Sortedfood community before all this began and the reason that content creators with an organic audience are in a very valuable position now. It’s not because of the current situation that we are now listening to those that engage, it’s always been that way. The global foodies who help shape and steer what we’ve done are the reason that we’re not worried about the future. We’ll stick together, we’ll help and advise each other through it all while serving up a decent portion of laughter along the way.

This will eventually, in time, pass. When it does, Sortedfood will still have a hugely active and engaged community of people excited for new adventures, challenges and discoveries. So, if you’re an airline, a destination, an automotive, accommodation or tech brand with an idea for a challenge that you feel we can help with, be sure to reach out. Our community are ready for you!

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