By Amy McCray

Edited by Nancy Waddell

Geological history recounts major earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest occurring every 240 years, scientists remind us. In such a scenario, we may have limited access to food and water supplies. Amy McCray, a chef with more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry, shares how to put together your earthquake preparedness kit with an emphasis on food.

When I read Kathryn Schultz’s article The Really Big One (New Yorker, July 20, 2015) last summer, the dark side of the geologic splendor of the Northwest United States became apparent. Schultz describes the impact the Pacific Northwest might face when the Cascadia subduction zone shifts and causes a magnitude-9.0 earthquake. Geological history recounts earthquakes of this magnitude occurring in every 240 years. The last one was over 315 years ago. Her point is when, not if.

Schultz details the effect of the quake and the tsunami that could follow: severe damage to buildings and infrastructure, loss of power and necessary resources, restricted access to food and water supplies.

The supposed severity of the impact made my husband and I consider our options. His parents’ suggestion – that the best way to prepare was to move back to Ohio as soon as possible – was not part of our plan.  Instead, we decided that we should put together an emergency preparedness kit and hope that the 75 year delay would last a little longer.

Using the Red Cross Emergency Preparedness guide we set out to assemble our kit. My husband and I have both worked in the restaurant industry and I have been a chef for over 25 years. I do not think of myself as a food snob, but standing in the grocery store aisle searching for canned goods gave me pause. There is nothing more depressing than canned peas.

kit #1

We stocked up on the usual items: dried fruits and nuts, fruit juice, canned fruits, peanut butter, crackers, and cereals that can be easily eaten without milk. Canned foods eaten cold can be a challenge, but chilled tomato soup is a classic! A mix of collard greens and hominy is traditional and delicious. A good vinaigrette would perk up a salad of red beets, walnuts and white beans.  Prepackaged Indian foods combine vibrant seasoning and protein-rich ingredients. Fruit and nut bars provide protein and chocolate, two necessary nutrients.

The last item on the suggested emergency food supplies list is comfort/stress foods, definitely the easiest and most important category to fulfill. A great excuse to buy Snack Pack Pudding (which I used to love back in the second grade, butterscotch being my favorite!), Fig Newtons, and again, chocolate. Actually, just about any reason is a good excuse to buy chocolate.

My husband made a good point – buy things that you actually want to eat. When the expiration dates approach and you rotate your stock, you should have something you would enjoy, not just something with a good shelf life.

We did not forget that Mason, our faithful, food-obsessed dog, has his needs also. We added his foods to our kit and a few treats for him as well. We have packed all of these things together with the other necessities: water, first aid kit, rain gear, clothing, tools, toiletries, copies of important documents, etc.

Now that we’re ready, let’s hope the delay continues. I’ve included a recipe to enjoy, just in case!

White Bean and Beet Salad with Chorizo, Walnuts and Sherry Vinaigrette

1 can    White Beans, drained and rinsed

1 can    Red Beets

1 ea      Chorizo Sausage, dry-cured, Cryovaced, with one-year room temperature expiration

½ c      Walnuts

1 T       Sherry Vinegar

3 T       Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a medium bowl, mix together the white beans and red beets.  Add the chorizo, thinly sliced.  Drizzle with the vinegar and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Top with chopped walnuts.

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