Publication in Food and Foodways


Pleasure and pressure are two sides of the same coin when it comes to the unpaid care economy. Food is the lens through which we examine the Janus-faced character of care during the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on qualitative empirical findings, we argue that time is crucial to whether people experience ambivalence, joy or constraints in providing food for the self, the family and the wider community. In Berlin, Germany, the pandemic lockdown and closing of schools and childcare facilities led to an increase of time and energy spent on care work in the household. This care work has remained feminized. Women are at the forefront of organizing daily routines and inventing new strategies to manage time such as increased online shopping, intensified planning of errands, cooking and enjoying meals together, or becoming involved in local food networks. The altered temporal rhythms during the pandemic offer potential for the revaluation of care and for organizing care as a shared responsibility, however it remains questionable how this reorganization will evolve in the long run. For the future, the economic study of food must finally include caring practices in its valuation since they are the backbone of individual and societal well-being and demand considerable time, especially from women.

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