In case of emergency

Today for lunch I had brown sushi rice with raw dinosaur kale and Tasty Bite Bombay Potatoes and Jodphur Lentils. I am eating my expired emergency kit purchased in October 2008. (And though the boxes state they expired last July, the food tastes fine.)

Actually, denial runs deep in San Francisco. My so-called kit consisted of ten boxes of Tasty Bite meals on a shelf in my closet. I guess I'd always imagined that when the shaking stopped, I'd run into my closet on the second floor of the house and throw the food and anything else at hand into a bike pannier and ride away across thickets of downed power lines and oceans of glass.

Recently, affected by footage from Haiti, I was able to conceptualize more likely scenarios. One of my housemates and I envisioned how to protect the house baby in the event of a big quake and I realized that I would very much want to stay with my housemates and to be able to help the City. Now the plan is to have real personal earthquake kit ready.

I've just done my taxes and happily the Feds are returning me quite a lot of money. I intend to take a stack of bills (and the bike coalition membership that allows me ten percent off everything I buy) to our venerable co-op to assemble a real emergency bag following Joanne Bradley's instructions.

Her ideas seem solid. Joanne was escaping flooding, an unlikely event in our neighborhood. I will tailor my improved kit with earthquake in mind. I'm expecting to need to be totally self sufficient in terms of food for five days and water for three. The Red Cross will certainly bring water--but not gluten-free food. In the event of a major earthquake, if I were uninjured, I would be working/volunteering so I would need at least 1500 calories a day to be able to function effectively. After water, I am prioritizing energy dense foods that don't require preparation or cooking.

1) 3 1/2 pounds of nuts
2) 1/4 pound dried coconut shavings
3) 1 pound Goji berries/Golden Inca berries
4) 24 Raw Revolution food bars
5) 8 GF Tasty Bite entrees (Only 200 calories each but sometimes one needs to eat something resembling a meal)
6) Fish oil tabs
7) Multivitamins
8) Wipes, tissues, and hand sanitizer in a Ziploc
9) Migraine meds/Tylanol/Naproxen
10) Wooden bowl/hashi/wooden spoon/Leatherman
11) Black tea bags (I am habituated to morning caffeine.)
12) Dried GF soup packets (for comfort more than nutrition)
13) 4 Green & Blacks 85% Cacao Chocolate Bars
14) Matches
15) G/F nutritional drink powder
16) Water
17) Panties & socks
18) Sunblock
19) Windbreaker
20) Long underwear
21) 3 Survival blankets
22) The Pocket Zen Reader
23) An extra pair of eye-glasses

I expect that everything on this list will be pretty heavy and it may exceed my bag's capacity. I'll be packing it into the tough water-proof wheeled carry-on I got on sale early last year (photo above). Joanne suggests including a three cup rice-cooker but I don't want to depend on having access to electricity. I'd be more likely to pack my campstove since I'd likely wind up living in Golden Gate Park with approximately 100,000 other people. It's likely that I would give away a lot of the kit, and possible that it would be stolen. I'd rather have something to lose then to be utterly unprepared.


During the Katrina disaster the American Celiac Society reported receiving very little support for their efforts to get gluten-free food aid to survivors. The first gluten-free food pantry in the entire country opened only last year.


Regarding GF Tasty Bite foods: They taste good, appear to be mostly unsugared, are made from food instead of industrial products, and are packaged to have a long shelf life without preservatives. For example, the Bombay Potatoes ingredients list reads, merely, Potatoes, Chickpeas, Tomatoes, Onions, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Ginger, Garlic, Corn Starch, Coriander, Chilies, Cumin, Spices. (Yes, they capitalize the ingredients. Very respectful.)


Anonymous said...

You are the first person I see writing about this, and I was just wondering the other day what all the gluten-free people would do if they depended on help from the Red Cross in an emergency. I am not sure, but as you point out I doubt that the much food these relief organizations are handing out during their great work is gluten-free (except maybe for the 30 and 50 pound bags of rice).

A friend of mine recently came across a company called Custom Choice Cereal, and they provide gluten-free cereal mixes that you can self-assemble through their website. The clue - everything they have is gluten-free, no risk of cross-contamination, and the cereal comes in a resealable zip-log bag. Your suggestions for an emergency kit are great, but I would consider adding a couple of bags of gluten-free cereal. These need to be replaced every 2-3 months, but that shouldn't be a problem. And if you add plenty of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds it's almost like a trail mix.

Hope this helps, and thanks for writing this great post!

Ms. W said...

Dear Anonymous, Thank you for reading and commenting.

Also, I appreciate your turning me on to the Custom Choice Cereal concept. It sounds like a particularly good resource for GF people in rural areas without sumptuous urban grocery stores & farmers' markets. For example, I have a long-running fantasy of moving to Alaska and I imagine ordering food online from Nome.

Maybe I'll request a batch of Custom Choice and review it.

Hoping you and I never need our emergency kits, Ms. W.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ms. W.

I certainly agree with you that I hope that neither one of us will ever find themselves in a situation where we would depend on our emergency kit. But I'd rather have it than being without it when it's needed...

I recently stopped putting my customized gluten-free cereal I order from them into the emergency kit and instead just have 2 bags in my cabinet at all times ;-)