On Farmers Destroying Food and Seeking Ways to Safely Reopen the Restaurant Industry

The Intelligence Brief is our weekly compendium of food and drink news sourced from outlets all over the world, including right here at home.

Week 7 of lockdown and the province is seeing a decline in cases as well as a decline in hospitalization; all signs pointing to societal success in flattening the curve. This week comes with a promise from Premier Horgan to release details on a plan for a gradual lifting of restrictions and the re-opening of businesses. As we wait for his announcement, we continue to cover how the pandemic is affecting the hospitality industry both at home and abroad…

As the restaurant industry awaits news of what reopening may look like, bars and restaurants consider how dining-in may change going forward.

Similarly, as the bar industry grapples with a vision for reopening, The Daily Beast asks several bar owners to weigh in on what the process might look like.

Sell, sell, sell! Incredibly rare Prohibition-era barware surfaces in special Sotheby’s auction:

“The online auction, titled “100 Years — Prohibition in America,” begins May 7 and features 54 items including novelty cocktail shakers and other drinking paraphernalia dating back to World War I.”

Local city councillors are exploring increased patio options for restaurants to promote social distancing while still being able to serve their guests.

While many suspect that reduced capacity will be the answer, there is concern that the strategy may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Despite calls for patience and a measured approach, some states in the US have pushed forward quickly with reopening even amidst a concerning spike in Covid cases.

Not surprisingly, Trump signed an order last week forcing meat processing plants to remain open despite unsafe working conditions and well-documented outbreaks.

As we begin to grapple with longer-term consequences of the global pandemic, experts are predicting higher food costs in the future.

This prediction is more troubling given that farmers are having to destroy food they can’t sell now that restaurants, bars, hotels and schools are shut down.

“The closure of restaurants, hotels and school cafeterias wiped out huge sources of demand for fresh food, leaving farmers with millions of pounds of excess. While increased sales at grocery stores have made up for some of that, not since the Great Depression has so much fresh food been destroyed.”

This week in food and podcasts: Robert Belcham talks future kitchens with executive chef Wilbert Choi.

Next, NPR hosts a discussion on hazard pay for frontline workers including grocery store clerks and delivery people.

“We are in a moment where inequality has become really, really visible. Some people get to stay home, while others have to go to work. And women, especially women of color, are disproportionately likely to be working in jobs deemed essential. The market is supposed to solve this kind of risk-slash-reward problem… so why aren’t these workers getting paid more?”

Despite the global pandemic and ongoing closures, new restaurants are still finding ways to open!

Case in point: Vancouver’s much anticipated Lunch Lady plans to start offering a limited menu for take-out starting in mid-May.

And while we welcome a few new gems, we’ve also had to say goodbye to some legends, including New York’s Pegu Club, which announced its closure after 15 years as an institution in the cocktail industry.

And speaking of cocktails, Stanley Tucci delighted the masses with this Nergoni-how-to video he posted on Instagram last week.

Although the industry has been hard hit, restaurants and entrepreneurs are still finding ways to support their communities. For example, business owner Hawa Hassan is feeding health care workers at one of the hardest hit hospitals in New York.

Closer to home, Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society, Growing Chefs!, Chef TJ Conwi and Vancouver School Board have partnered to prepare meals for families requiring support.

Canadian musicians raised more than $8 million dollars for food banks across the country after their Stronger Together performance last week.

Meanwhile, a brewery in England is offering free beer in exchange for donations to health care workers.

And finally, a reminder that there are still substantial ways you can help the hospitality community through this crisis. These are people that can’t work from home. They are hourly wage earners who often have fewer extended benefits and paid sick time. If you’re looking for ways for ways to support our local hospitality industry and employees:

– Purchase gift cards to use at a later date.

– Participate in Canada Takeout Day and order from one of your favourite local restaurants.

– Support your local small grocers and independent food stores.

– Order food for pick-up or for delivery (keeping social distance during pick-up).

– Make sure to tip your delivery person well (in many ways, they are on the front lines).

– Support your local food bank. This pandemic is increasing the number of people facing food insecurity. They ask that you prioritize financial donations over food so as these can be made online.

– Engage with local restaurants, bars and cafes on social media. Share photos and leave words of encouragement and support.

– If you do need to go grocery shopping, consider supporting a local small business (they’re also often less busy than the larger grocery stores and have more supplies in stock).

– Buy restaurant/bar merchandise online if available (ie: t-shirts, hats, tote bags). Helen Rosner has compiled a list of great F&B merch on her IG Stories.

– If you have private events booked at any local bars/restaurants, consider postponing rather than canceling.

– Check in with your friends who are bartenders, servers, dishwashers, cooks, etc. and ask them how you can best support them through this.

Most importantly, stay safe and take care of each other. We will get through this!

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