I haven't opened any of the 21 boxes of vegetarian emergency food that arrived yesterday courtesy of Costco (and my VISA card). I hope I never have to.
My wife and I are involved with emergency preparedness efforts in our neighborhood. It's been kind of difficult to get people interested in dealing with a problem that isn't readily apparent -- such as the "Big One" earthquake that is overdue to hit the Pacific Northwest.
But now that we've learned about how devastating a major earthquake would be to Oregon, I couldn't stop thinking about what life would like here if major bridges on I-5 were destroyed, power lines were toppled, and people in a vast region between the Canadian border and northern California required massive outside help.
It could be months before things got semi-back to normal. So one goal of our neighborhood's emergency preparedness effort is to encourage planning ahead for what hopefully won't happen in our lifetime. But definitely could.
With a time line of 41 events the science team at OSU has now calculated that the California–Oregon end of Cascadia’s fault has a 37 percent chance of producing a major earthquake in the next 50 years. The odds are 10 percent that an even larger quake will strike the upper end, in a full-margin rupture, within 50 years. Given that the last big quake was 312 years ago, one might argue that a very bad day on the Cascadia Subduction Zone is ominously overdue. It appears that three centuries of silence along the fault has been entirely misleading. The monster is only sleeping.
So last week I decided to research vegetarian emergency food supplies. A few hours of Googling revealed that Costco seemed to have the best "package deal," a nutritionally complete, varied, long-lasting supply of food aimed at keeping one person fed for about a year.
It arrived yesterday.
I was sort of worried about where we'd put it, as the Costco information didn't specify the size of the 21 boxes. Knowing that the shipment consisted of 126 #10 cans, I calculated that it probably would only take up about half of the available space in a small closet that I'd cleared out.
I was right. The stack of 21 boxes (one of which got mildly crunched in transport) measures about 19 inches deep, 39 inches wide, and 54 inches tall. That's 24.2 cubic feet. To me, it's worth taking up that space in our house for some peace of mind.
Which is what Costco's emergency food department offers. I was fortunate to get $300 off my order, because the vegetarian food was on sale at the time I decided we needed it. However, even at full price ($1,800) I consider it to be a good deal.
This amount of food supposedly feeds two people for six months. Based on the 680,000 calories, I suspect it would be a bit less than that for my wife and me. But I just did a rough calculation.
Anyway, I figure that we have insurance on our house, even though it probably is less likely that it will burn down in the next twenty years than the likelihood of a large earthquake hitting Oregon in that timespan. So why not take out some "insurance" that reduces the risk of suffering from a major emergency?
I felt better as soon as the Fed Ex semi truck appeared at the top of our driveway. Engaging in magical thinking, I'd been ruminating "Now that I finally ordered emergency food, probably the Big One will hit just before the food arrives."
Well, it didn't. And like I said, I hope we never have to open the boxes, most of which have a shelf life of more than 20 years.
Since I haven't tasted any of the food, I can't comment on its culinary goodness. All I know is that most of the food in the boxes is on my "like to eat" list, with the notable exception of some items in one category:Beans & Protein:
- 6 Whole Egg Powder (236 servings per can/1416 total servings)
- 1 Black Beans (65 servings per can/65 total servings)
- 6 Pinto Beans (58 servings per can/348 total servings)
- 2 Lima Beans (67 servings per can/134 total servings)
- 3 Lentils (78 servings per can/234 total servings)
- 3 Chicken TVP (45 servings per can/135 total servings)
- 3 Bacon TVP (47 servings per can/141 total servings)
- 5 Taco TVP (42 servings per can/210 total servings)
I don't like black beans, pinto beans, and lima beans.
So I ordered some other containers to compensate for my bean phobia (I believe it started in elementary school, where I often heard the disturbing song "Beans, beans, the musical fruit; the more you eat, the more you toot." Why would I want to eat food that makes me toot?)
Here's a photo of the other corner of the closet, where two containers of Costco dog food and one each of lentils and pasta reside. After an earthquake I will zealously control the lentils and pasta; fortunately, I'm married to a woman who likes beans.
[Note to self: you forgot about the "cheese" side of "macaroni and cheese." Order some from Costco before the earthquake hits!]
The other items are a water pump with filter and ninety fuel pucks. I pictured using these as one means to boil the water needed to reconstitute the freeze-dried and dehydrated emergency food.
I was impressed with how easy it was to order these supplies from the Costco web site. Shipping was free. (Meaning, included with the price.) Everything came within a week. The cost seemed eminently reasonable, judging from other sources of vegetarian emergency food I found online.
And the other stuff in the boxes struck me as being nicely thought out. Good variety of grains, fruit, and vegetables. All of which I like. Because they're not beans.
- 12 White Rice (53 servings per can/636 total servings)
- 6 Millet (52 servings per can/312 total servings)
- 6 Cornmeal (46 servings per can/ 276 total servings)
- 6 Rice Flour (75 servings per can/450 total servings)
- 4 Quinoa (36 servings per can/144 total servings)
- 6 Amaranth (44 servings per can/264 total servings)
- 6 Potato Chunks (25 servings per can/150 total servings)
- 1 FD Sweet Corn (46 servings per can/46 total servings)
- 1 FD Broccoli (52 servings per can/52 total servings)
- 4 Carrot Dices (49 servings per can/196 total servings)
- 2 Onions (45 servings per can/90 total servings)
- 2 Split Green Peas (46 servings per can/92 total servings)
- 1 FD Potato Dices (41 servings per can/41 total servings)
- 3 FD Green Peas (41 servings per can/123 total servings)
- 6 Tomato Powder (49 servings per can/294 total servings)
- 2 FD Banana Slices (49 servings per can/98 total servings)
- 2 FD Strawberries (45 servings per can/90 total servings)
- 2 FD Raspberries (48 servings per can 96 total servings)
- 6 Apple Slices (48 servings per can/288 total servings )
- 1 FD Pineapple (41 servings per can/41 total servings)
- 1 FD Blueberries (50 servings per can/50 total servings)
- 1 FD Blackberries (49 servings per can/49 total servings)
- 10 Powdered Milk (61 servings per can/610 total servings)
- 4 Cheese Blend (52 servings per can/208 total servings)
- 2 White Sugar (646 servings per can/1292 total servings)