Gone are the days when most people have kitchen gardens from which they can harvest seasonal fruits and vegetables for their daily meals. I got to thinking recently about the many other possibilities that now exist here in Madison, and presumably in many places, for getting food on the table. Meals on Wheels, probably the earliest and only food delivery service to people in their homes, is now one of an amazing variety of other services and businesses, many that bring food to the neighborhood or front door.
Probably pizza delivery was one of the first options for home delivery, its arrival signaled by the sound of the doorbell. Since those early days, many other restaurants deliver meals as well. In the newspaper last week was an article about two young entrepreneurs who are starting a meal delivery business for a whole list of restaurants — well beyond the pizza delivery model.
Grocery stores now have large deli sections filled with fully prepared salads and pasta dishes and twice baked potatoes, all ready to put on the table. In addition, there are hot entrees ready to go — rotisserie chickens, pizza slices, sesame chicken, macaroni and cheese, meat loaf, etc. Some of the large grocery stores also offer a service by “personal shoppers;” these shoppers are employees whose job it is to do the grocery shopping for people who can no longer get to the store themselves. These customers submit lists of what they need and the shoppers gather all the items into carts, bag them up and send the groceries to the people’s homes in a van.
If not to the front door, then foods may be brought to the neighborhood, such as the farmers’ markets that are wildly popular — at least in the Midwestern part of the United States. We have a huge farmers’ market here during spring, summer and fall, all around the capitol square on every Saturday morning. And there are smaller neighborhood Farmers’ Markets as well on other days of the week.
This past summer, somebody organized a weekly Food Carts night in our neighborhood park, just two blocks away from our house — another alternative to cooking the evening meal.
Recently, friends of mine told me about a “fresh ingredients and recipe delivery service” called the Blue Apron. They have signed on for 3 recipes a week. The Blue Apron has videos on line that offer instruction in the preparation of the recipes and the recipes are never repeated in the same year. The Blue Apron website declares that it “delivers everything you need to cook incredible meals at home.”
And now I’ve discovered that my son and daughter-in-law have signed on to a non-profit agency– Community Supported Agriculture — that supports local farms by pairing up households with specific farms. The farm owners deliver bags of fresh vegetables and fruit, and sometimes eggs, cheese or herbs, to a household station for pickup weekly or biweekly during the growing season. I have seen signs for CSA at pick-up points around the city.
All of this awareness of food and meal sources has led me to think about the time spent as rehabilitation occupational therapists, working with patients to help them function in an adapted kitchen — to enable them to prepare, cook and serve meals when they are discharged home. Such a focus in therapy remains valued and needed, but information about other ways to go about getting a meal on the table can also be helpful and an eye-opener. At the very least, we as occupational therapists need to be well informed about what all the options are in our home territory. We want to be able to appropriately provide information and guidance on the best way for each person with whom we work to put food on the table when he or she goes back home to resume life in the community.