Food quality and food security are influenced by home-sourcing during COVID-19

Grocery sourcing at home (HFP), including fishing, gardening, hunting, foraging, backyard livestock, and canning have been important ways for people to obtain food in the past. Research shows that some HFP activities like gardening have increased recently while others like hunting have decreased in the US.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in HFP activities, as evidenced by the increase in hunting licenses and supply shortages for seeds and canned food. Although HFP activities are known to have a positive impact on food quality and security, research focusing on activities other than gardening is limited in high-income countries.

Analysis of how engagement in HFP activities has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic

Recently, researchers from the United States examined changes in patterns of HFP activity since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and their relationship to food quality and security. They used multivariable logit models and matching analysis along with a statewide representative survey of 600 residents of Vermont, USA. This study was published in the journal BMC Public Health.

The data for the study was collected using a survey developed in collaboration with researchers from National Food Access and the COVID research team. In addition to the socio-demographics of individuals and households, the survey assessed several components of food security, food access, HFP, food intake, the effects of COVID-19, and participation in food aid programs.

“We use one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) to examine food quality intake at the time of the survey for HFP, specific HFP activities, and the intensity of HFP.”

a Percentage of respondents who have been involved in an HFP and certain HFP activities since COVID-19.  The percentages include all respondents (n = 600).  b Among the respondents who engaged in HFP (n = 205), the percentage of those who have increased the intensity or performed a new HFP activity since COVID-19

a Percentage of respondents who have been involved in an HFP and certain HFP activities since COVID-19. The percentages include all respondents (n = 600). b Among the respondents who were involved in an HFP (n = 205), percent of those who have increased the intensity or performed a new HFP activity since COVID-19

The results show that vulnerable, food insecure populations are more likely to experience elevated HFP during COVID-19

The study results showed that 29% of the households surveyed can be classified as “food insecure” since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, the study showed a higher prevalence of food insecurity among populations earning less than $ 50,000 a year, those experiencing negative job changes due to COVID-19, and Hispanic and multiethnic respondents.

Around 35% of respondents have been involved in HFP activities since the pandemic began; most of them were horticulturalists and over half of them were either more involved in HFP activities than before the pandemic or started HFP activities for the first time during the pandemic.

Food insecure households were more likely to be more likely to pursue HFP activities such as gardening, foraging, fishing and hunting. It found that those who weren’t sure were indigenous and black people, people of color, larger households, and those with a job break, were more likely to be involved in elevated HFP during the pandemic. Interestingly, HFP was significantly linked to increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, although this was only important for food-safe households.

“The results show that HFP activities increased significantly in the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic and occurred particularly in households with unsafe diets.”

The increased interest and intensity of HFP show the need for awareness-raising and public relations work

Taken together, these results suggest that HFP activities have increased since the beginning of the pandemic and they may provide an important safety net for food insecure households. However, the results also showed that HFP in nutritionally insecure households does not lead to increased fruit and vegetable consumption in nutritionally safe HFP households.

This suggests that food insecure households may be trying to maintain food intake or need help with resources or technical assistance. In the long term, HFP activities can have a significant impact on food security and nutritional quality. According to the authors. HFP can also have effects on preservation and further studies need to investigate this effect of HFPs. Nevertheless, the increased interest and intensity of the HFP activities show important opportunities for education and public relations.

“Additionally, additional collaborations within the conservation sector can be important to assess the long-term effects of elevated HFP levels that can affect forests, waterways and species.”

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