Eating in the Age of COVID-19

There is a video circulating about how to minimize one’s exposure to viral contamination from groceries by a Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen. Most of us have seen it by now, I’ve shared it elsewhere, voyager posted it over on Affinity, and so on.

It’s good. It’s also not good. I don’t really blame the doctor for this, we’re all if not in the dark, at least ‘in the dim’ about how to deal with all of this. So here’s that and some more information and my best guesses.

The video is here:

There is value to this. Watch it. But then, note the corrections and clarifications in its description, and also read this LiveScience article: This one finally explains WHY soap on produce is a bad idea, which I had heard before but oddly never with any reasoning attached.

I intend to continue discarding outer packaging and disinfecting what packaging can’t be discarded. Seems to me there’s no harm in that and the chance of something good. A source of peace of mind, maybe, and even if doing that isn’t any more scientifically effective than, say, waving a crystal at it… for me peace of mind is harder to come by than a retail shelf full of sanitizing wipes these days.

So my overall plan – which seems reasonable but it’s bonkers hard to know for sure; I’m just a reasonably intelligent overeducated layman, not an expert on any of this – is to do what the doctor video says except where a reason is given in this article not to. (No reason is given not to do the packaging thing, it just said there’s no direct evidence it’s a vector. I don’t see how it possibly couldn’t be, since we’re told to wash every time we touch anything, but that’s me.)

Good Omens, the book, has the following quote:

God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

To me, this is what all of this feels like, so much contradictory information and the vast majority of it (well, at least the vast majority of what will be listened to by anyone around here, I expect) from credible sources who are trying to do their best.

I guess that’s all that can be expected of any of us.


  1. robert79 says

    Personally, i’m young and healthy and not in an at-risk group. So i’m not too worried about catching the corona virus for myself, I’m more worried about catching it, not noticing I’m sick, and infecting other people around me. I suspect this is the case for a lot of people.


    Do NOT:
    – Sneeze into your hand and then…
    – Squeeze every piece of fruit in the supermarket until you find that perfectly ripe one
    – Wash your hands on returning and think everything is fine

    – Wash your hands *before* going to the supermarket
    – Avoid touching your face on the way to the supermarket
    – Keep your distance
    – Only touch stuff you intend to buy
    – Pay contactless if possible
    You can wash your hands afterwards as well, just realise you’re probably going to touch your nose again at some point before your next supermarket visit.

    It’s not only about minimising your exposure to the virus, it’s also about minimising the amount of people you could potentially expose.

    (Disclaimer: i’m a mathematician, not a medical professional. This just seems like common sense to me but I’d happily be proven wrong.)

  2. says

    I can’t even tell what risk group I’m in now. My immune system’s pretty good, I’m not actively infirm – but then somehow I managed to seriously bruise or crack a rib last week, which means any symptoms I could get from the big bad will be much more painful and much riskier.

    Either way, I endorse everything Robert said above here, and already do his recommendations.

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