If you see me in the grocery store with a cart overflowing, please don’t assume all the food is for me. As a woman who is above “average” size, I feel the eyes on me with every item I put in my cart. Let me explain why my cart is so full these days.
COVID-19 turned me into a food hoarder. I don’t say that lightly or to make fun. In fact, my food hoarding came out of my intense love for my family, especially my son, with food allergies. My family has a history of hoarding, and I’ve been able to keep my head above water…until now.
My parents are both immigrants, who were raised with minimal resources. Couple that with coming to America with little more than what they could bring on their back, they never wasted any food. I grew up eating dandelion weeds and zucchini blossoms before they were trending. My family demonstrates their love through food, specifically providing more than enough of it.
Fast-forward to January 2020. My husband and I had a running joke that we were always ready for Armageddon. Little did we know it was about to be worse than that with a seemingly never-ending quarantine. I remember going to the grocery store on March 12 to “stock up.” Three hours later, I felt confident with my shopping, as well as orders with Amazon and Whole Foods on their way.
When my husband got home that night and asked if we would be ok with food, I showed him my stockpile with pride. He seemed content for a few days. As the severity of our situation came to light, he asked that same question, with our older son, who has food allergies in mind. That’s when I cracked and started to question myself.
“Did I have enough?”
“What if I couldn’t get to the store?”
“What would I feed him if the stores didn’t have his food?”
Then, that weekend, a friend who is a nurse texted me and told me she bought a spare freezer because it was only going to get worse. Sweat started to form on my brow, and I immediately started to research them as well. (Keep in mind, I already have two full fridge/freezers).
Next, I started counting up all the food we had in the house and thinking about how many days it would last. I started asking friends I knew were out shopping to pick up food for me, continued to do my best to get deliveries, and even started using a wholesaler for food.
As the news began to report food shortages and empty grocery stores, I felt both validated and worried. Soon all my thoughts revolved around getting food, how much food we were using, and how to make the food last longer. The rare times I made it out to the grocery stores, I would cram as much as I could into my cart.
I wish I could say I’ve calmed down with my food hoarding. That would be a lie. It still gives me the chills to walk into major grocery stores and see empty fridge/freezer cases and limits on items. However, I don’t run from store to store, anymore, or ask friends to grab me endless supplies.
Now I can take a breath and remind myself that we have enough until next week’s shop. If it’s still not there, I also know my family understands my love is more than providing their next meal.