30 Apr 2012
If you count off what you need to survive, it’s pretty simple.
Water, food and shelter come to mind.
Recently, at the airport, I flashed my driver’s license through the security line and caught a glimpse of a red card that serves as a bona fide certification of my status as a Californian. Gilt with gold ink in the shape of a condor and my best attempt at a serious smile, that card verifies that I am part of the San Francisco Neighborhood Emergency Response Team.
Six weeks of evenings spent with San Francisco firefighters, a group of us developed earthquake eyes. We learned emergency medicine and even tried our hand at triage exercises as well as search and rescue. The understanding here is that when we have our next big earthquake, the neighborhoods will be called into action to help assess the neighborhoods and communicate the walking wounded from those needing immediate care to a stretched fire department.
One of the assignments during the series of classes is still in process of being finished. We have been working on putting together our 72 hour kit, gathering the jugs of water (5 gallons per person and only 1 gallon per day per person), putting together our grab and go emergency bags- for a just in case kind of scenario.
Years ago, my 72 hour kit consisted of primarily processed foods. There were those packs of crackers with something that resembles peanut butter sandwiching them. Cans of tuna and fruit cups lined the inside of a plastic tub we kept in our garage.
In my experimentation and growing interest with food preservation though, I have come to understand another way of approaching our 72 hour kit and this is one that consists of jars of real food preserved for the future and possible natural disaster.
At last month’s Craftcation conference, Chef and master food preserver Ernest Miller showed us how to make lacto-fermented sauerkraut from scratch. This condiment is rich in naturally cultivated probiotics of lactobacillus acidophilus and takes about two weeks to fully ferment on your back counter. Jars of Early Girl tomatoes line the shelf. Close by jars of black turtle beans and cannellinis are within close reach of pistachios, almonds, flax seeds and raisins. Then come the jars of amaranth, organic brown rice and organic corn kernels. And of course there’s a box of organic rice cereal stashed away.
How does this differ from what we eat on a regular basis? Not much, though we have boxes of organic almond milk to replace our daily dairy foodstuffs for that rainy day.
My favorite firefighter talked about throwing an annual 72 hour kit party where he pulls out the previous year’s stowed away water and foods before they go bad and creatively introduces them into a party his friends and family have come to look forward to. I can appreciate this type of celebration that accompanies a topic that for many can summon a lot of fear. Food preservation helps prepare us for the future- and one that is tasty regardless of the circumstances.
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