Friday, March 25, 2011

What's in Your Disaster Preparedness Kit?

Following news of the disaster in Japan, each breaking development more troubling than the last, the number of people that are cut off from food, clean water, or adequate shoulder, is growing. In Utah, we have been given warnings for several years that a major earthquake is on its way. Unfortunately, many of us are not prepared for disaster.

While we may not be able to do much sent donate money towards the relief efforts in Japan, we can prepare ourselves and our own families for possible disaster. Just a few simple steps to and be taken to ensure a basic level of preparedness. According to FEMA's website, good idea to have a basic disaster preparedness kit at home, in your car, and even in your office. Looking at a recent disasters, is not hard to see that food and water becomes scarce very quickly.

Items to include in a basic emergency supply kit:
  • Water, 1 gallon per person per day for three days. This one will be used for drinking, cooking and sanitation. Water purification tablets, or some other water purification systerm, is also recommended.
  • Food, at least three days worth. Canned foods, dry goods, or any properly stored non – perishable food items are needed. Some companies still emergency food supply kits that can make purchasing them easy.
  • Battery powered or hand crank radio. Get one that will tune in to the NOAA weather station. News of where to go in case of an evacuation of other important information will be broadcast from there.
  • Battery powered or hand crank flashlight. An LED headlamp may also be a good idea to keep your hands free during an emergency.
  • Extra batteries and/or a solar charger.
  • First aid kit. Include any prescriptions you can't do without.
  • He reflective emergency blanket. Made of mylar, lightweight plastic sheets reflect radiant body heat back to you.
  • A whistle. These can be used as signals to call for help if you are trapped.
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air.
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to create a makeshift shelter or patch holes in an existing shelter.
  • Moist towelettes, plastic garbage bags, feminine hygiene items, and plastic ties for help with personal sanitation.
  • Basic toolkit loading a wrench or pliers turn off utilities.
  • Can opener. Vital if your kit contains canned food.
  • Local maps, case you need to take unfamiliar roads during an evacuation.
  • Include a cell phone with chargers, power inverter, or solar charger.

You may also want to consider packing:
  • A change of clothes. Think in layers to prepare for all kinds of weather.
  • Boots or shoes that will protect your feet and dangerous conditions.
  • Copies of important documents such as, passport, assurance documents, and contact list.
  • Camping items such as sleeping bags, tents, waterproof matches, candles, and a mess kit.
  • Food and water for your pets.
  • A fire extinguisher.
  • Emergency flares, especially if you keep the emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle.
  • Books, blank paper and pencils, crayons, and anything else you can think of that will serve as age appropriate entertainment that doesn't require electricity.

Putting together your own emergency preparedness kit can bring peace of mind as well as needed supplies.

Photo credit: Ics9

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Clean Plater - Food Poem by Odgen Nash

I seem to be in the mood for poetry, today. At least it has very few calories.

Some singers sing of ladies' eyes,
And some of ladies lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,
And course ones hymn their hips.
The Oxford Book of English Verse
Is lush with lyrics tender;
A poet, I guess, is more or less
Preoccupied with gender.
Yet I, though custom call me crude,
Prefer to sing in praise of food.
Yes, food,
Just any old kind of food.
Pheasant is pleasant, of course,
And terrapin, too, is tasty,
Lobster I freely endorse,
In pate or patty or pasty.
But there's nothing the matter with butter,
And nothing the matter with jam,
And the warmest greetings I utter
To the ham and the yam and the clam.
For they're food,
All food,
And I think very fondly of food.
Through I'm broody at times
When bothered by rhymes,
I brood
On food.
Some painters paint the sapphire sea,
And some the gathering storm.
Others portray young lambs at play,
But most, the female form.
“Twas trite in that primeval dawn
When painting got its start,
That a lady with her garments on
Is Life, but is she Art?
By undraped nymphs
I am not wooed;
I'd rather painters painted food.
Just food,
Just any old kind of food.
Go purloin a sirloin, my pet,
If you'd win a devotion incredible;
And asparagus tips vinaigrette,
Or anything else that is edible.
Bring salad or sausage or scrapple,
A berry or even a beet.
Bring an oyster, an egg, or an apple,
As long as it's something to eat.
If it's food,
It's food;
Never mind what kind of food.
When I ponder my mind
I consistently find
It is glued
On food.

Photo credit: Ilker

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Braised Pork with Colcannon for St. Patrick's Day

Unless you're Irish, Saint Patrick's day is mostly an excuse for drinking beer and wearing green. Come to think of it, that's pretty much what it's for if you are Irish. For a foodie, it's an excuse to eat Irish food. With that in mind, I'd like to share this recipe I found for a whiskey-braised pork shoulder with colcannon. Served with Irish soda bread, it should make a hearty supper.

Note: you can omit the whiskey if you want, replacing it with more broth. There isn't really a good substitute for whiskey in cooking.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Food Prices are Rising, Home Gardening Can Help

lettuce in home garden
Unrest in the Middle East combined with stock speculation are driving crude oil prices higher and higher. Because of this, food prices, already at a record highs, are likely to increase even further throughout the year.

Hiroyuki Konuma, of the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), has said, "The potential risk is crude oil may continue to go higher, and if the floods and drought happen again, we'll face further price increases." He has also said that, "… we're in a much better situation than the crisis in 2008."

In a video press briefing from Bangkok, Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior FAO economist, said “We will get an increase in production but not sufficient to ease the market ... High, volatile prices will continue in 2011 and even in 2012 ...We have to be extremely cautious about what is going to come in 2011-2012. Spring is going to be extremely critical, when farmers will decide what crop they’re going to plant. In many major producing regions, we have already hit maximum acreage.”

Higher crude oil prices were not the only things that have contributed to higher food prices. According to an index compiled by the FAO, prices have surged as bad weather has ruined crops from Canada to Australia. Suffering from its worst drought in 50 years, Russia has stopped exporting grain.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wheat production for 2011 is estimated at 645.4 million tons. The demand, however, has been forecast at 662.7 million tons. Corn is not any better. Its production is estimated at 814.3 million tons, compared to a demand of 836 million tons.

Rice production is the only cereal grain where production, estimated at 451.6 million tons, is slightly above the estimated demand of 451 million tons. Unfortunately for South Asia, rice prices rose to record highs in January.

Fortunately, the FAO has also proposed a solution. Yesterday, they released a report that suggests small scale farming practices could be used in double world food production in 10 years. So called agroecological practices, very similar to organic farming, focus on increasing soil quality and biodiversity.

To me, this implies that it is more important than ever for us to build up our food storage and supplement it with home vegetable gardening. Even though my family garden was a near disaster last year, we are planning on trying again this year. We know we can't grow everything, but we can certainly supplement our diets with a nutritious homegrown food.

Photo credit: Christa Richert