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COVID cooking: ECU researchers explore how coronavirus is changing food habits

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

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Has the COVID-19 crisis turned us also into culinary connoisseurs? Or are we reaching for convenience over nourishment?

A new global study involving Edith Cowan University (ECU) seeks to answer these questions and explore the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on people's food behaviours.

ECU nutrition researchers Dr Ruth Wallace, Professor Amanda Devine and Ros Sambell are surveying Australians as part of the project.

Dr Wallace said they hoped to understand the shifts in food consumption and shopping habits since the arrival of COVID-19.

"In understanding how we're adapting and changing the way we eat, cook and source our food, we can have a broader insight into pandemic behaviours and food literacy in general," she said.

Thriving or surviving

"Anecdotally, we're already seeing some people thriving and getting inventive with what's in their pantry, cooking from scratch more and eating together as a family.

"At the other end of the scale, for some it has been a real challenge and they're resorting to whatever they can lay their hands on, like fast food and convenience foods, when they haven't been able to find their normal foods.

"People who are already teetering on food insecurity have been significantly affected as they don't have the money to stockpile and may not have the skills to know how to cook nutritious meals with alternative ingredients."

Learnings for the future

Dr Wallace said the results of the survey could pave the way for governments and health services to improve the community's food literacy.

"From an Australian perspective, it will be good to know how our restrictions impacted our community compared with other countries and where the gaps are in relation to knowledge and skills around food," she said.

The survey is led by the University of Antwerp in Belgium with collaborators from around the world.

All Australians aged over 18 are invited to participate in the Corona Cooking Survey.

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