Last week, President Donald Trump effectively forced meatpacking plants around the country to remain open during the pandemic by signing an executive order designating them as “critical infrastructure.” Interestingly, the president has declined to use the same justification to speed the production of coronavirus tests and personal protective equipment.
The industry always keeps plenty of meat in frozen storage, and because of restaurant closures we are going through this supply less quickly. Thus, the choice to keep meatpacking plants open is not attributable to the “critical” nature of the meat industry. Rather, it is more likely due to a deep-seated association between eating meat and our national identity. After all, America consumes more meat per capita than any other country. Even before this pandemic, our habits had negative consequences for animals, the environment, our public health, and workers in processing plants — but the virus might be worsening the effects. So, in times like these, rethinking that association may be necessary for our collective well-being.
Maybe you’ve noticed that grocery stores have been a lot emptier recently. The looming threat of coronavirus has caused Americans to clear out supermarket shelves, hoarding massive quantities of food, toilet paper, and other household goods. Combine fear over potential supply chain disruptions and a healthy dose of herd mentality — as in, “If everybody’s buying food, will there be any left for me?” — and it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s getting hard to find peanut butter with consistency.
There was a moment last year when pop artist Lizzo was getting wall-to-wall favorable coverage. On top of the success of her newest album, she was applauded for proudly displaying her body — something that a few years earlier, might have been unthinkable. In her 2019 Time Entertainer of the Year profile, she credited her fame to a “culture change.”
“There were a lot of things that weren’t popular but existed,” she said, “like body positivity, which at first was a form of protest for fat bodies and black women and has now become a trendy, commercialized thing … Suddenly, I’m mainstream.”
Currently, there are over 46 million posts on Instagram tagged “#cleaneating”. Many of them come from accounts dedicated to health and fitness, whose administrators adhere to a dizzying array of diets: vegan, keto, paleo, Mediterranean, and raw being the most common examples.