How the Pandemic Has Changed Americans' Food Habits

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic first started, we've all had to adjust our habits to accommodate the evolving situation. This is especially true when it comes to food-related habits like cooking and grocery shopping. But with more than a year of the pandemic under our belts, we can't help but wonder which habits have gone through the most significant changes.

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The 16th annual Food and Health Survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) can help shed light on the matter. The survey, which was conducted between March 23 to 31, 2021, involved 1,014 Americans between 18 to 80 years old. The results showed "how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected how consumers shop, eat, and think about food," according to the IFIC.

Here are some of the survey's most interesting findings:

We're Shopping for Online Groceries More Than Last Year

For many people, online food shopping was a saving grace in 2020. However, even as retail establishments return to normal capacity and business hours, it seems like online grocery shopping is here to stay. In fact, it's on the rise.

The survey reports that 42% of consumers currently shop for groceries online at least once a month. This is ​higher​ than last year, when only 33% shopped for online groceries at least monthly. Clearly, folks are loving the convenience.

Making More Intentional Food Purchases

The pandemic has inspired Americans to show up for their neighbors. In the past year, 75% of survey respondents helped their community through food. The results also found that one in four people purchased food from local farms and 21% shopped or dined at supermarkets and restaurants owned by minorities.

Additionally, the survey found that "those who experienced food insecurity as a result of COVID-19 were even more likely to have made an effort to help their community compared to those who didn't."

It's worth noting that more than 50% of respondents reported experiencing food insecurity in the past year, with 75% of those people attributing it to the pandemic. Minority groups, younger people, and lower-income Americans were most likely to be affected.

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To learn about food insecurity in America and how you can help, visit Feeding America. Your local food pantries or soup kitchens might also accept food donations.

Leaving Bigger Tips for Restaurant Workers

The restaurant industry took quite a hit last year. In turn, people have really come through for restaurant employees. According to the survey data, more than two in five people "made an effort to support local restaurants and tip more." Let's hope this trend continues, especially as local restaurants and cafes try their best to recover.

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Kirsten Nunez is a journalist and author focusing on food, health, and DIY. In May 2014, she published a craft book, "Studs & Pearls: 30 Creative Projects for Customized Fashion." Her work has appeared on eHow, PopSugar, Shape, VegNews, and more. She lives in Beacon, New York.