As the coronavirus continues to make inroads in the Bay Area — along with fears around the spread of the illness — we’ve seen a myriad of (sometimes unforeseen) consequences in the local food economy: xenophobic avoidance of Chinatowns, a boatload of canceled restaurant reservations, Costco panic-buying, and an uptick in food delivery.
Add this one to the mix: The SF Chronicle reports that Rancho Gordo, the legendary Napa-based purveyor of dried heirloom beans, has seen orders more than quadruple in the past few weeks, from 150–200 bags a day to about 800, as gourmet-leaning customers brace themselves for the possibility of a long (but still delicious) quarantine.
Known for selling harder-to-find bean varietals like the Domingo Rojo and the Eye of the Goat, Rancho Gordo might not be the first brand name the average consumer thinks of when stocking up dry, non-perishable goods — but Bay Area farmers market types are known for nothing if not taking their food seriously. And so, owner Steve Sando tells the Chron, there have been so many orders, the company might even need to work an extra shift just to ship them all. He tells Sunset Magazine that the orders are backed up enough that there’s a three- to four-day shipping delay.
It’s become enough of a phenomenon that it’s picked up traction on social media, with Rancho Gordo fans tweeting that the beans are the perfect item to stash away in case of a quarantine — or, say, a zombie apocalypse.
I have long joked with my husband that my stash of beans is prep for the zombie apocalypse. Who’s laughing now?— Mary Beazer (@marythebeaz) March 3, 2020
“Gigantes” - quite literally “giants” - is a gorgeous and comforting butter bean bake. One of my favourite Lenten (and vegan) dishes.— Alex Andreou (@sturdyAlex) March 6, 2020
P.S. Occurs to me that people used to cooking with dried beans and pulses, will be at a huge advantage, come the Zombie Apocalypse. #justsaying pic.twitter.com/QQN5YtjwJL
The good news, for bean lovers looking to settle in for the long haul with a nice pot of cassoulet: For now, anyway, it appears that only a handful of varieties are completely sold out.