How to Order Takeout Safely and Ethically
Whether they do it voluntarily or on government orders, restaurants across the country are closing their dining halls and moving to takeout or delivery only, raising concerns about the safety and ethics of asking someone else to go shopping. prepare food and bring it to you during a pandemic. There is no perfect solution, but there are steps you can take to ensure that your food is as safe and ethical as possible.
According to Amanda Mull’s article for The Atlantic, food prepared at the restaurant is unlikely to pose a threat. In an email interview with Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, Morse explained that the risk of spreading the coronavirus through cooked food is low:
He told me via e-mail that even if the person cooking it got sick, “cooked foods are unlikely to be a problem unless they become contaminated after cooking.” He admitted that “lettuce, if someone sneezes with it, may pose a certain risk,” but, he said, with proper food handling, “the risk should be very low.”
This, of course, depends on the restaurant’s health and safety standards, but it’s worth remembering that restaurants have followed strict food handling regulations for quite some time now, and that most have introduced even stricter systems in light of the pandemic. If that’s not enough to allay any concerns, you can always check the restaurant rating on the local health department’s website or pick restaurants that you already feel comfortable with.
When it comes to delivery, keeping personal contact to a minimum is the safest thing you can do for yourself and the delivery person, and asking that your order be dropped outside the door or in the lobby or foyer of your apartment building is an easy way to do this. Postmates has an official “no contact” shipping option , but you can add shipping instructions requesting this type of delivery to just about any shipping app.
If you do decide to pick up food, try to leave in your spare time, maintain a distance of at least six feet between you and any other shoppers, and avoid crowds at the counter. Obviously, if you’re experiencing any coronavirus symptoms or feeling unwell, stay home and either order food or have a healthy friend pick it up and leave it outside the door.
Is it ethical?
There has never been truly ethical consumption under capitalism, and the global health crisis is not helping. Going to get food when you have to stay at home is bad, but asking someone else to do it is even worse, even if it might be their main source of income.
There are many ethical factors in play, but the best you can do is try to be as considerate of the employee as possible. In addition to requesting contactless delivery, canceling an order during peak hours or bad weather can help relieve some of your stress. If you’re worried about how the various shipping app companies treat their workers, Eater has a comprehensive list of what each has to offer in terms of sick leave and compensation.
If you have a specific local restaurant that you want to support, it’s worth checking their social media to see which delivery or delivery method they prefer. Restaurants rarely make money on app delivery and really need all the financial help they can get right now. Just take the precautions listed above, avoid busy times, and keep a safe distance from other customers and restaurant employees as much as possible.
Pay attention and tip
Most of us have never experienced anything like this before, and to some extent we are in uncharted waters. Tensions are high and many people face financial uncertainty in addition to other stressors. It is extremely important to be kind and considerate to your fellow human beings right now, especially to workers whose jobs require them to be at peace among the crowds. (Right now, there is absolutely no excuse for mistreating grocery employees; they are putting themselves at risk to provide food for their communities)
Besides being nice, you should tip very well. Five bucks per order is the absolute minimum, but now is the time to be as generous as possible if your income allows it. Also, don’t take more of what you need. This applies to toilet paper – please stop hoarding it! – but this also applies to food and resources . Not everyone is able to cook their own food due to disability or illness, and high demands can make it difficult for these people to feed themselves. If your area seems to be seeing a sharp increase in the number of shipping apps (higher prices and longer wait times), wait a while before ordering, or eat something else if possible.
There is no perfect way to feed yourself right now (and, frankly, there hasn’t been before), but you must eat. Be aware of the workers most at risk in this ethical equation, keep personal contact to a minimum, and, for heaven’s sake, tip.