A Shift from Toilet Paper to Plants and Seeds

Grow Your Own

Perhaps we’re moving on from hoarding toilet paper in response to the coronavirus pandemic. We see nothing wrong with cleanliness. But new purchase trends point to a more nostalgic focus. In addition, it might be more nourishing. Plants and seeds for vegetable gardens are becoming hot items now.

Maybe all this talk about the depression has brought us nostalgia for the Victory Gardens of World War II.

Starting with Fear

The first phase of panic buying was all about protection. So of course, guns and ammo were moving briskly on news of the pandemic. Oddly enough, the impulse to buy toilet paper was also about protection – from disgusting stuff. That’s right. The psychology of a pandemic is to amplify the human reaction of disgust. It’s not rational, but the reason that people started snapping up face masks, sanitizers, and toilet paper was to protect themselves from disgusting sources of illness. Though there’s some logic in the face masks and hand sanitizers, what really drives the hoarding is emotion – fear.

On to Comfort and Nostalgia

We must be getting a little less panicked, because buying behavior is now shifting toward comfort and nostalgia. Earlier this week, grocers were bereft of ice cream. That’s an obvious craving for comfort. Now we see an even broader shortage of yeast and flour. That’s right, people are baking bread “like crazy.” Google searches for “bread” have doubled with the pandemic. Low-carb thinking isn’t dead, but bread is winning the day in the quarantine kitchen.

So the resurrection of Victory Gardens is not such a big surprise. If you want comfort and nourishment at home, the garden can do it. Plus, you’ll get a healthy dose of nostalgia. Enterprising growers are delivering starter kits right to your door. Greenhouses and nurseries have exemptions as “life-sustaining” business under many quarantine orders.

If one outcome from this nasty virus is a few more home gardens, we’ll take that as a good thing.

Click here for more on new and old Victory Gardens, here for more on what people are buying in the pandemic, and here for more on consumer psychology in a pandemic.

Grow Your Own, Victory Garden poster from the U.S. Office for Emergency Management / WikiMedia Commons

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March 26, 2020

2 Responses to “A Shift from Toilet Paper to Plants and Seeds”

  1. March 26, 2020 at 7:53 am, Mary-jo said:

    Here in our part of Europe, I’m not seeing or hearing about hoarding as much as family and friends (and social media posts) from the States. I think, here, the culture is still very much grocery shopping more frequently, much less at a time, than in the States, and it’s organically (no double meaning here 😊) resulting in less panic buying. When I first moved to Europe, I used to gripe about how ‘small’ supermarkets were, how much less ‘choice’ there was, etc. Now, when I return stateside (gosh, I hope I’ll be able to to do that someday!), I am completely overwhelmed in supermarkets and tend to go to smaller markets. Stay well, Ted!

  2. March 26, 2020 at 8:08 am, Ted said:

    Good point, Mary-Jo. We have a little market in our neighborhood and it’s been much calmer. But still no yeast or flour!

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