Service of Shortages During the Pandemic

May 21st, 2020

Categories: Bicycles, Meat, Pollution, Shortages, Social Distancing

We’ve heard ad nauseam about TP, paper towel, mask and disinfectant wipe shortages in retail stores–I haven’t seen a container of Clorox wipes in weeks nor will I unless I’m there when they are delivered according to a Wall Street Journal article–but now there’s a bicycle shortage and hints of an impending scarcity of meat as well.

Ironically the pandemic might create a healthier population just as it has cleaned the air and waterways in cities worldwide. According to an @CNN tweet, the journal Nature Climate Change reported global carbon emissions dropped 17 percent between January and April.

Bicycles Built for Two

It’s not just in NYC that some anticipate riding their bikes to work instead of taking a subway. Christina Goldbam wrote “Thinking of Buying a Bike? Get Ready for a Very Long Wait. The United States is facing a shortage of bicycles as anxiety over public transportation and a desire to exercise has sent the demand surging.”

She reported in her New York Times article, “Some bicycle shops in Brooklyn are selling twice as many bikes as usual and drawing blocklong lines of customers. A chain of shops in Phoenix is selling three times the number of bikes it typically does. A retailer in Washington, D.C., sold all its entry-level bikes by the end of April and has fielded more preorders than ever in its 50-year history.”

Goldbam wrote: “Today fewer than 1 percent of New Yorkers commute by bike. In Portland, which has the highest percentage of cycling commuters of any American city, only 6.3 percent of commuters ride bikes. By comparison, in Copenhagen nearly half of all trips to work and school take place on bicycles.”

During the 1980 NYC transit strike I rode my bicycle from Brooklyn to Manhattan. The Brooklyn Bridge was jammed. It will be interesting to see how social distancing plays out at rush hour if bicycle transportation really becomes a thing in cities.

High on the Hog

As for meat, according to Saloni Sardana of businessinsider.com, the shortage is one of workers and of transport to stores–not of beef, pork, lamb etc.

Some analysts anticipate consumers moving to plant-based alternatives. Sardana also reported: “Kevin Beasley, chief investment officer at VAI, said: ‘By incorporating analytics and AI, meat companies will be able to ensure essential products are available in the right place at the right time and proactively identify breaks in the existing supply chain.'”

In addition, as the nation’s pocketbooks shrink, so their choices of cuts of meat will navigate to less expensive ones.

What shortages are you experiencing? Are you tempted to travel by bicycle? Do you think that a significant number of commuters will opt to bicycle to work once offices open up? Have meat prices increased in your grocery store?

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13 Responses to “Service of Shortages During the Pandemic”

  1. Nancy Farrell Said:

    We’ve had days where there are shortages of one kind of meat but not another. I credit the stores for limiting the number of purchases to 2 per customer so there’s meat for anyone who wants it. I just might find myself buying a whole turkey instead of ground beef. And if there is something special such as baby back ribs or corned beef then I will buy those instead of what I’d planned on buying. The meat prices don’t seem higher but I think that might be because my store is selling bigger packages so the prices per pound aren’t bad. I try to make double batches of things that freeze well such as lasagna.

    I hadn’t heard that there was a shortage of bicycles but I know that my neighbors have been giving each other old bicycles that they aren’t using. But that’s what we do normally so I hadn’t questioned why. I’ve been riding mine for exercise. I won’t be able to ride it to work because of highways and tunnels but I’d love to if I could.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Nancy,

    In addition to meat shortages I am concerned about outbreaks of COVID-19 among workers in chicken and pork plants. Overcooking food is probably the answer to ensuring the safety of the meat which is a shame as dried out chicken or turkey or brown beef or lamb are not favorites of mine.

    I bought a large chicken when there were no small packages of my favorite dark meat parts on one shopping day and it was a mistake. I still have the uncooked white meat in the freezer as I dislike it and would rather eat a peanut butter and sandwich.

  3. Larry Kay Said:

    Larry wrote on Facebook: As a diabetic with lactose intolerance, I dread the possibility of a meat shortage. I really depend on meat and fish. Beans? Ick! But I may have no choice

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Larry,

    You will be fine as long as you are willing to pay. It always comes down to that and food is the most important expense in addition to shelter so I predict you will have no problem. Thank God for that.

    I worry about the millions of people who do not have enough food of any kind. I am blowing my budget and supporting food banks, a food collection project in my apartment building and a sandwich making project also through the manager of my apartment building. There’s a misconception that in the land of plenty we have no hungry people. I wish it were true.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    Because I dislike shopping, I had a load of paper towels & toilet paper once shortages hit. What’s on hand now should last until the end of summer & beyond. More ingenuity must be used for the Clorox/Lysol wipes. An overheard conversation revealed that one may make discreet inquiry at the checkout desk for positive results. Try big chain drugstores — the ones that sell everything short of the kitchen sink!

    The possibility of food shortages is a concern. The description of the US as “The Land of Plenty” is about to be tested big time!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    We won’t be totally out of food, I don’t think, we might need to be flexible. As Nancy wrote above– that she’s already experiencing–you may have “chicken” on your food shopping list and go home instead with lamb shoulder or stew meat.

    When I had a house I bought gigantic packages of TP and paper towel and I’d bring in a few rolls to the city. In a small apartment that’s no longer possible. When I’d get down to one or two rolls of either, I’d buy another small batch. A have a few more than that right now and feel comfortable.

    I would like to find Clorox disinfectant wipes. I’ve asked at the cashier at CVS where I once bought a small bottle of 70 percent alcohol that wasn’t on the shelf–what I need to make my own wipes. I’d prefer the official ones.

  7. Nancy Farrell Said:

    Jeanne–I tend to slow cook a lot of things. I just prefer it that way because the meat is well cooked but not dry. My favorite turkey recipe is one handed down from my mom. It’s very simple–she learned it from a male supervisor in the early 50’s but it’s fool-proof. My brother gave me a very simple recipe for ribs. You cook it for over 2 hours–either on the grill or in the oven–but you have water in the foil or in the pan–and it’s so good! RE; whole chicken, if you have a crock pot, I have a decent recipe for you. For fish, I have one really decent baked recipe that makes the house smell like citrus. Divine! I can’t speak to what kills the virus and what doesn’t but I hope time and heat will!

  8. Nancy Farrell Said:

    P.S. RE: Wipes, I’ve been making my own. I keep paper towels and disinfecting spray in the car and in the kitchen and there you have it.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Nancy,

    A vintage copy of The Joy of Cooking, my first cookbook, described as an eternity a whole ham and two people. To this I’d add a turkey and one person. The last few turkeys I made at Thanksgiving I turned upside down to start so the juices would land in the [dry that I so dislike] white meat.

    I like ribs and will keep your brother’s water tip in mind. I don’t own a crock pot and I cook fish on the top of the stove. I don’t like overcooked fish either though I adore lemon and the scent of citrus.

    I have made my own wipes and will be forced to continue to do so soon. They are juicier than Clorox wipes and take away my paper towels from my stash so I wouldn’t mind finding the commercial ones. I fear I’ll kill my phone along with germs as the homemade ones are too wet. Ironically I never before bought these wipes though for years I’ve been a loyal Clorox Cleanup spray fan.

  10. Martha Takayama Said:

    I have experienced shortages of toilet paper. I did find some at the beginning of this week and purchased my quota of 2 packages. Clorox wipes are invisible. I do find other cleansers many of which I have never heard of, and strain my eyes to read the minuscule print which will tell if they actually disinfect. I note that their prices are what a friend would call “agressive”

    I have given up on finding alcohol for the moment and am ashamed to confess that to have even resorted to using a perfume, (actually only cologne) which I bought by mistake or never chose and really don’t like, to wipe down a counter or a mirror in moments of high germ anxiety. Thomas’s English muffins may be unavailable.

    I don’t shop for red meat. Chicken seems to be available, but I am queasy about buying it because of the horror stories of the manner in which is prepared. There are many more faux meat products than 2 months ago displayed in different sections of the supermarket. I assume that many people also are particularly willing to try meat alternatives because of the coverage of Covids in the processing plants and the ever increasing prices.

    I find the overload of traffic modifications for bikes in older cities like Boston, which can barely handle its cars, impractical and dangerous. Bikes as transportation would seem less hazardous for contagion than mass transport, but streets become impassable. Accidents are often fatal. It is also hard to imagine a relatively sedentary and overweight population unused to biking other than for leisure being physically able to negotiate our streets with them especially in New England weather.

    We are faced with very complex disquieting obstacles to mobilizing workers as the pandemic continues to ravage us.There are no easy answers. and we had better concentrate on medical research that will make mass transportation safer,

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I think the bicycle commute option is OK for those who don’t live miles from their work destination; have alternate options in inclement weather; are in good shape and up to the challenge and have a safe place to store their bike. Dealing with traffic is a legitimate concern. When anxious, as in traffic, NYC drivers often become impatient which is a danger to bicycle drivers.

    I visited a CVS in Manhattan on Saturday where the cashier told me they have no antiseptic wipes and don’t expect a delivery until Thursday and they don’t know if wipes will be in it.

    I use a butter substitute Brummel & Brown which was available in many stores upstate but in only one 11 blocks from me in NYC. They haven’t had a delivery in three weeks and the store manager told me he keeps ordering it. He has hopes for its arrival as he showed me he kept the price ticket on the refrigerator.

  12. Lucille Grippo Said:

    Another great blog! I haven’t seen a package of chicken in about 2 weeks. I also only go to the corner Stop and Shop for fear of the cleanliness of other stores.

    I understand why our grandparents became hoarders after the Great Depression. I had trouble finding Mayo so when I finally did I bought two jars. Silly really because before this pandemic a jar of mayo lasted. We are not using more but the mentality of not finding it “next time” gives this impulse buying to stock up.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucille,

    You know where I’d go if I lived where you do? To one of my favorite stores of all time–I miss it so–Adams Fairacre Farms. There’s one not too far from you in Wappingers Falls. The family-owned business would keep itself scrupulously clean. Also, I bet they have chicken.

    I know what you mean about shortages–though we have chicken last I looked! I went back to the store at which I bought my first two boxes of plastic gloves–I don’t leave my apartment without them to punch the elevator buttons, open the door to the garbage room and, if it isn’t open, the front door–and it has run out. I toss the gloves when I return home. I have a bunch left but will call the store frequently to see if they received a new shipment. If they do I will buy 2 boxes if I’m permitted so I can relax and if friends need some, I’d have extras so I can mail off a few pair.

    As for Clorox Wipes I am surprised that Proctor & Gamble doesn’t have it together to whip out palettes-worth to fill shelves with an essential product that has a ready-made, hungry customer base. Hmmmmmmm. Will heads roll?

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