Pandemic eating: How sweet it is

Several times in the last month, I have acted on an uber-aggressive instinct to buy and hoard comfort foods. In fact, every time I’ve forayed out to the market, decked out in nitrile gloves and a blue-and-white mask, my first thought, after toilet paper, has been sweets---cinnamon buns, black & whites, babka, banana bread mix, shortbread cookies, and the list goes on.

I’ve gone from coffee and toast in the morning, a salad for lunch, and a basic dinner (often courtesy of Chipotle when working late) to a new routine---breakfast, followed by a piece of chocolate from that fancy box I bought on Amazon and stashed in the pantry, followed by Black Forest gummy bears or mandarin-flavored Hi-Chews, and then maybe a little bit of romaine with dressing (me attempting to inject some nutritional virtue into my day), and finally more sweets.

Melitta Bentz, early 1900's

Turns out I’m in good company (Facebook feed and all). In fact, it’s a foregone conclusion that eating in quarantine means consuming more sugar and more carbs, because they make you feel better and lift you up. It’s like eating love. Some data shared and analyzed by Hustle showed that people are baking bread at “unprecedented” levels---and this is borne out by empty shelves in the baking section at supermarkets and an outsized interest in bread-baking machines and sourdough starter kits.

Within the last month, people have searched for flour on Amazon at a 3600% increased rate compared with the previous month. Searches for yeast have increased by 3000%. The main reasons that Hustle cites are comfort, stress relief, self-reliance, low cost, store avoidance, and boredom. Notice that ‘comfort’ tops the list. And if you’re into store-bought pastries, those too have seen an upsurge in popularity---an 18% increase in sales in the first week of March, according to Nielsen data reported by Bloomberg.

Drinking coffee goes well with eating sweets, not only because they complement each other, but because coffee helps your body process sugar better. In fact, coffee is associated with a significantly reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. In a meta-analysis of almost 1 million people, drinking 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day was associated with a 25% decreased risk of developing diabetes—even when people were consuming sweets.  

Right now, I’m brewing and drinking Melitta Premium coffee, a brand that boasts that it uses the highest quality arabica beans (within the top 2%). It’s good---I especially like that it’s finely ground. It brews nicely with a paper filter. Strong, bold, dark, and best served hot.

Did you know, by the way, that Melitta is a brand that is named after a woman? Melitta Bentz was a German house-frau in Germany in the early 1900’s when she ‘discovered’ the pour-over method.  Ms. Bentz was tired of dealing with gross grounds in her coffee---so she used her son’s blotter paper from school and figured out how to siphon out the grounds---and the rest is history. 

Please feel free to share if you have an especially good recipe for a baked good! See the comments section below.


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