Lauraine Jacobs

Food & Wine Writer

Lauraine’s blog

5 May 2020

INTO THE FUTURE

After 43 long days of cooking dinner, without a break, I finally got to eat “out” even if it was eat “in” this past weekend. You may well ask why hasn’t my husband cooked? That’s another story but suffice to say he’s been working hard from home, playing the piano (see my instagram posts) or exercising. On Saturday we had the dining bargain of the year, slowly braised lamb shoulder with chimichurri and all the trimmings from the Farmers Daughter at Omaha Beach - $45 for two. Sunday was crisp beer battered fish with chips and a shaved fennel salad from Rothko at the Sculptureum -$40. Both places were set up with safe systems for collection, yay!

(I also tell a small lie. One night about four weeks ago there was a knock on the door and some lovely neighbours left a tasty lamb and chickpea stew on our doorstep for us. Thanks Slavka and Metin Yildiz, who happen to be co-owners with Simon Gault of Giraffe in Auckland’s Viaduct Basin. So that meal and those two takeout meals I enjoyed on the past weekend have really become the high points of Lockdown food.)

As we move into our uncertain future, there are both clear messages and some roadblocks ahead for the food industry. There’s so much to do, so many dilemmas to address. We can grow and produce enough food to sustain every single Kiwi year round but right now it’s not getting to the right places. The undernourished and disadvantaged numbers will rise and our food systems need to find a way to get more good food to them, each and every day.

At the same time, our fine restaurateurs and café owners are burning after many weeks of closure so we need to support them. It’s easy to say get out and purchase meals from them but how many takeout meals are going to sustain their businesses? I would take a guess that currently, even when they sell out like many of them have over the past week, many are barely or not even covering their costs. And the number who can actually afford to eat out constantly is diminishing rapidly.

My heart also bleeds for our artisan producers, the farmers and the growers who have struggled with nowhere to sell their amazing food over this seven week stretch. Food has been spoiled, thrown out or lost, and current and potential customers disconnected. Like the hospitality industry, it’s the impact the business has on others that is equally worrying. It’s like the house of cards; whip even the least value card from the bottom of the pack and the resultant chain reaction causes collapse. Everyone from the workers and suppliers to possibly the landlord goes down.

I am in love with the current campaign to Buy Local. That will help. Businesses will have to shift tack. We need to help them where we can, support and buy their food, and offer any innovative ideas we dream up. We will be forced to make changes in the way we shop, eat and drink. We are the most vital link in the food system, albeit at the end of the chain, as consumers. Make every dollar spent a dollar that counts and helps someone else. If you thought this past seven weeks was tough and one of self-sacrifice, think again. The coming months will be more important, and this time it is our choice to help each other.

Sustainable businesses can survive, but they need assistance, love, care and support. And as for our charities that help to feed the hungry, bless the little cotton sox of everyone involved in the good works they do and the threads they pick up when other systems fail.