One of our local newspapers has had several articles about the impact of Covid on many aspects of French life outside of the obvious serious health concerns. One headline said something about chewing gum that caught my eye since I couldn’t understand its connection to the virus. Apparently there’s been a dramatic drop in sales because fewer people feel the need to have fresh breath. When you’re working from home there aren’t any colleagues around you and even if you do go into the office, social distancing and masks can prevent any problems. In Switzerland it’s chocolate that’s fallen on hard times since that’s what employees often bought on their way into the workplace. The article went on to discuss another item in France that has suffered a similar fate in loss of revenue but for a totally different reason.
Snack cakes are no longer as popular as they were in pre-Covid days. People got out of the habit of picking up something quick to eat on the way to work once that pathway to their desk became merely clearing away the breakfast dishes and placing their laptop computer on the same table. They also discovered baking their own snack cakes at home and have continued to do so, finding fulfillment in making something themselves that tastes better than ready-made. During the first lockdown, finding 1 kilogram bags of flour was almost impossible but now even our compact neighborhood grocery store has an expanded section with a variety of flours that were never available before. At the Saturday open-air market one of the bakeries now sells bags of the flour that they grind to bake into the loaves that they sell there as well.
When I saw the following headline on another newspaper article I knew what was coming, “The French are eating more and more environmentally friendly, but some habits die hard.” That had to be referring to the incredibly popular hazelnut and chocolate spread, Nutella, in this country that holds the record for annually consuming more than anywhere else; 26% of the world’s production, in fact. When the health crisis began, almost ¾ ths of the population here said that they wanted to eat more responsibly, meaning organic foods, shopping locally, and having less packaging waste. There is widespread support for 100% sourcing of ingredients right here at home yet some of those “die hard habits” from the headline include chocolate, coffee, and that tasty spread that contains 58% sugar and 20% palm oil, most all of which must be imported.
But help might be on the way! There is a farming company called Les Arts Verts located in Torreilles, about 120 km/75 miles from us where they are successfully growing “tropical” plants that originated on the French island of La Réunion but have adapted to the considerably cooler conditions here. I can’t wait to try that first banana, lime, or pineapple with a sticker that says, “Made in France”.
Les Art Verts: https://www.lesartsverts-torreilles.fr/
Photo credit: Chewing gum from a Carrefour supermarket ad. The featured photo is Bill’s fruit cake.