Oh the stupidity! The response to this pandemic has been complete shit. Well, what I can I personally do about it? Not much. But one thing I realized I could do is minimize my exposure to places that were a nexus of interaction. That sounds obvious and most people did stop going to concerts and sporting events, etc. However they did not stop sending a household representative to the grocery store.

It was widely believed that groceries were "essential" and therefore it was impossible to not suppress this obviously problematic activity. I did not completely agree. I won’t bore you with the long list of industrial engineering recommendations I thought of, but I’ll share the one I got to test out personally — eliminating half of my grocery store contact by eliminating half of my trips to the grocery store.

Here is a plot taken from my credit card records showing the time and amount of my purchases at the grocery store over the last 750 days.


The horizontal axis starts at the beginning of June 2019 which is far enough back to get a bit of a baseline for what was previously normal. The purple line shows how many days it was since I last went shopping; this is measured in days shown on the right and the horizontal lines are weeks. The green line was how much money I spent on food.

The interesting thing here is that at around the end of March 2020 (day 300) my shopping habits changed radically as I started to push the limits of how infrequently I could get away with buying food. As you can see, I pretty much was able to get my food resupply down to about the same level as a 19th century trans-Atlantic sailing ship.

Since one of my religious commandments is to not waste food, it took some pretty careful management to not waste anything and also not suffer from scurvy. At the beginning of each cycle I’d cram salads and fresh fruit, but by the end of the cycle I was down to pasta, nuts, and dried fruit. To me this was an interesting test run to see if I could live somewhere very remote where resupply might be quite an operation. The answer is yes. And if I lived in some remote place, I probably would be able to grow much of the perishable food that required more frequent restocking.

Since I didn’t really eat out at all for most of this time, this is pretty indicative of how much it costs to feed myself exactly what I like to eat. It works out to about $6.72/day. (Compare with my 2016 analysis of my finances which found groceries to be around $4/day. That makes sense since I was eating out more — probably a greater total expense.)

You can see around February 2021 (day 600) where my interval stretches to a record 6 weeks and the expenditure actually goes down. This is the interval when I was in Colorado some of those weeks and eating my dad’s food (thanks BTW!).

Note that I do my own shopping for just me — my wife has her own grocery agenda that is different. Of course that would be double the plague risk, negating the beneficial effects of my extreme shopping regime. But not to worry! My effects are probably not important in the real world anyway. Though most humans seem to weirdly disagree with me (based on insistent questionable vaccination recommendations), I suspect I was largely immune to The Plague well before March 2020 when normal people started freaking out about it.

The skeleton on the plot shows roughly the time span where I was clawing my way out of the grave while suffering a severe case of Covid-19. The long interval just before that was when I was using up everything before going on the airplane trip that likely exposed me to a C19 early adopter. One of the classic symptoms of the disease is anorexia — the inability to have an appetite and eat enough. As you can see, while starving to death (was down to 134lbs/61kg) I did go buy food when I didn’t think I was too infectious. Sorry about that. Hope I didn’t kill too many people! This is a reminder why the grocery store should be taken seriously as a transmission nexus and sick people should have "other options" to not starve. But they don’t.

At least I was able to demonstrate a way to (presumably) cut grocery store transmission substantially. And, perhaps more practically, demonstrate that something I don’t like doing can be done a lot less often than is typical.