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Do it yourself! How the corona crisis promotes a new DIY boom

By 30. March 2020 April 1st, 2020 No Comments

Suddenly we were forced to slow down due to Corona. All at once a lot of people have a lot of time on their hands. This leads to a new boom in do-it-yourself culture – especially with regards to our eating habits. The Corona crisis thus offers us an opportunity to make our food more emancipated, more creative and more sustainable. Let’s take it!

Artur Rutkowski via Unsplash

Artur Rutkowski via Unsplash

From one day to the other all of our lives have slowed down. We experience a super-accelerated deceleration in large parts of society. A full stop into slowness, so to speak – a strangely paradoxical spectacle, which suddenly gives us an enormous wealth of time. At least for those who do not have to take care of their children and relatives or are working in health or food retail. Many others, however, find themselves confronted with a decelerated everyday life and have one thing above all else: more time.

It is particularly exciting to see what the corona crisis is doing to our diet. At the beginning of the pandemic, great social uncertainty was reflected in a perceived unsatisfactory demand for pasta, flour and canned food. In supermarkets, corresponding shelf sections showed gaping empty spaces, food producers had to introduce shift and weekend work, and finally, hamster purchases had to be stopped with corresponding regulations. 

Given the new consumer behavior (from a culinary point of view), can we conclude that, in the wake of this crisis, Germans are now only eating pasta with pesto from a jar or canned soups? No, because on the other hand we are starting to make things ourselves again. 

The “do it yourself” trend, especially when it comes to food (called “DIY food” in trend researcher jargon), is experiencing a true renaissance: Photos of home-made food are filling the social media channels (#coronafood), recipe e-books, food blogs and DIY YouTube videos “à la Corona Special” are booming and, as a result of the spring weather and many of hours of sunshine, fruit, vegetables and herbs are now being grown everywhere in gardens, on balconies or window sills.

Due to the restrictions on the number of people being able to meet in public and the many (forced) hours spent in their own homes, the Wednesday or Saturday walk to the weekly market in the neighbourhood around the corner is truly celebrated. The need for fresh air can be wonderfully combined with solidarity towards producers – of course, all this while keeping a safe distance of at least two metres. 

Our newly won leisure time here and there is getting more and more people interested in baking their own bread, pickle sauerkraut, make jams from fruit and preserve vegetables. The term “homemade” not only promises taste experiences free of additives and aromas, but in times of Corona also offers a different and in an almost forgotten way challenging occupational therapy. 

While DIY was part of everyday life until industrialisation – there was simply no convenience food in cans – it is now the pleasure of working with your own hands in an increasingly digitalised reality. Especially now that you feel like clicking all day long from zoom meeting to slack call and email inbox. Do-it-yourself thus represents an extremely pleasant balance to a stressful and somehow monotonous working day, in which professional success often takes longer than the rising of the just kneaded sourdough.

„Do it yourself expresses the desire for self-sufficiency as well as the longing for participation.“

 

“Do it yourself” in economic terms represents the purest form of individualization. Although you want to emancipate yourself in a certain way as a “prosumer”, i.e. to be a consumer who is also involved in production and/or more independent (due to various food scandals in the past and the resulting increased need for transparency and trust), doing it yourself expresses the desire for self-sufficiency as well as the longing for participation. The newly acquired knowledge of food production or preservation techniques also needs to be shared, discussed and developed in exchange with like-minded people. 

And so the DIY trend is not to be understood as an absolute negation of digitality, but as a social development that brings it to a more humane level. The sometimes increasing dominance of the audiovisual and mediatization in the course of digitalization (and the resulting loss of direct reference to reality) boosts the individual need for touch, authenticity and experienced reality. The digital change in our society is thus to a certain extent to blame (or rather, to thank it) for the fact that we can observe – even before Corona – a re-growing interest in the topics of cooking and food preparation. 

„Everything happens on the smartphone. What else can you touch?“

 

“Everything happens on the smartphone. What else can you touch?” Rene Redzepi, head chef at Noma in Copenhagen, which has won several awards for “Best Restaurant in the World”, summed up the social desire for the haptic that is immanent in us. In the long run, food will be the only thing that connects people with the analogue world. Our “oral lust” (or in other words: our desire to eat) becomes a substitute for reality that cannot be experienced in any other way and an expression of a desire for closeness. 

One thing is clear: the corona crisis extremely restricts us humans in our perception of space and time. As a result, we act primarily in the here and now. But according to sociologist Hartmut Rosa, this is precisely where the chance for “basic moments of resonance” lies – moments that allow us humans to get off the hamster wheel and experience real experiences. And let’s be honest: what could be more obvious than our diet?

My suggestion: Let’s use the time and invest it in homemade food. Let’s broaden our culinary horizons and pickle cucumbers, bake bread, cook jams and chutneys, smoke celery, start sauerkraut, dry tomatoes, form tortellini or simply cook spaghetti with tomato sauce – the main thing is that we make things ourselves. Because at the end of the day this not only increases the sense of the time invested, but above all the appreciation for the food we eventually eat. And there’s another advantage: in most cases it then even tastes better.