I Can't Stop Eating My Coronavirus Food Stockpile

An ode to all of us bad preppers whose lack of self-discipline persists through any state of emergency.
March 12, 2020, 11:00am
can of beans black and white
Photo: Getty Images

It seems to me that these days, Seattle grocery stores should have two types of checkouts: one for panicked coronavirus preppers, and one for those like me who just want some Sunchips.

My inability to delay gratification as a supposed adult makes it difficult to be a proper prepper storing up foodstuffs in case of quarantine. Because I'm one of those “If it's in the house, I'm going to eat it” types of people. That doesn't work during pandemics.

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Recently, the shelves in Seattle supermarkets look like they belong to a newly single man whose wife left him: There’s a single can of beans, a bottle of ranch, and a pack of spearmint gum. The preppers are swooping through, gathering up Purell, water, every ply of toilet paper, cereal, pasta, granola bars, cheese, dried fruit, and anything in a can that's edible.

I tried to be a good prepper, and bought some chili, bananas, canned tuna, sliced turkey, orange juice, yogurt, and Red Vines, among other items. Oh how the refrigerator looked bountiful, as if my mother visited when I was in college and bought me groceries. By 11 p.m. a third of the food was opened and eaten, and merely two days later, all that remained was a can of Stagg and half a Red Vine. My stomach hurt.

Storing up food in my apartment goes against every nutritional instinct I've ever had. The only way I've been able to lose weight is not by developing some sort of discipline, but by treating myself like a child and keeping minimal food at home, so that when it was two in the morning and I wanted to binge eat, I could only yell at my empty cupboards and just go to sleep angry.

Those who can keep a plethora of food in their refrigerators and cupboards are a marvel. These are the same types of people who don't feel the need to eat an entire pizza and stop after a single drink instead of getting plastered and roll up bags of chips without finishing them in one sitting. Sometimes they even attach a little clip to the chip bag, like psychopaths.

Good for them. But since my uncontrolled eating pays no heed to the growing coronavirus threat in Seattle, I'm forced to consider new ways of actually storing up food despite myself. The first method is buying somewhat healthy food I barely even like, including brown rice, snap peas, imitation crab, low-sugar oatmeal, eggplant, bran cereal, and black Red Vines. I choke it down in small doses with a tear in my eye, and much of the food remains a week later (partially because I just keep ordering pizza).

When this poorly-thought-out system fails, I employ another: buying likeable food, but keeping it far away from my apartment and downstairs in the creepy storage area. You want some chips and salsa at 1 a.m.? You're going to have to walk down to the basement in your boxers and get it. Hope that spider's not there this time! The laziness ends up trumping the stress hunger and my stored prepper food several floors below lives to fight another day.

Events like pandemics and earthquakes and locusts are supposed to help simplify life, and remind us how to prioritize what's actually important. Unfortunately, this is too optimistic for jackasses like myself whose vices and pettiness and lack of discipline seem to persist through any state of emergency.

It's why the other day I found myself in a long grocery store line, standing between two people whose baskets were filled with cans and cleaning supplies, whereas mine had a few Cadbury Cream Eggs rolling around. If they don't help me fight off the coronavirus, I don't know what will. Good luck and godspeed to all of you.