Guest Post: Butterscotch Chips and Eggs
I attend the Emerald Branch in Central Queensland, Australia. If you have been watching the international news, you would have seen that Emerald is 80% submerged in flood water and is considered a disaster area. The entire flooded region is equivalent to France and Germany combined. All of the emergency evacuation centres are overfilled; some are under water. The first Grocery store, Coles, went under water earlier this week. Following that, police went in to the other two grocery stores and cleared the shelves of bottled water. The purpose was that they could better distribute it in case of a rationing emergency. The largest of the three grocery stores was nearly bare of product within a day of that, with pallets of stock pulled into the aisles for people to access quickly. Now this store is sitting in two feet or more of water.
The branch building was in a background shot on the news—oddly, between the muddy rivers that had once been roads, and between the houses that people were wading away from in knee-deep water, I could see green grass at the front of the chapel…suggesting that for some odd reason, it may have been spared of flooding. For now.
The flood is moving east to Rockhampton which is the main supply road to Emerald. Not that that matters—the roads have been intermittently blocked for the better part of the month of December, so supply deliveries were already somewhat sporadic. Now that the roads are securely blocked, there is a real threat of running out of food. The Prime Minister has declared about 20 natural disaster areas.
We have food storage. We are fine. We are dry and still have power. Others in the branch are not so lucky.
But I am annoyed by food storage. Don’t get me wrong, we are taught the principle of food storage in Australia. But every time I have been handed one of the “itemised food supply” lists in Relief Society, I throw it away immediately. Sure I feel guilty about it. Because it is wasting paper and killing trees to throw it away. However, the items on the suggested list are always inadvertently from American food supply companies or American-based LDS provident living groups. The lists aren’t bad, but… the last one advised collecting 10 pounds of butterscotch baking chips. We don’t get those here, and for chocolate chips, the package sizes are different, so recipes like “1 bag of chocolate chips, 1 can of condensed milk” are useless. A while ago, a visiting American sister recommended bottling our own produce. Nice suggestion… for North America. As a very removed and (normally) extremely dry continent, produce is expensive… the lowest price I have recently seen for fresh tomatoes- which are at the peak of the season, is about $1.50/lb. Add the cost of the average storage bottle and lid ($4 – $8 per bottle), you are looking at a jar of tomatoes that can cost up to $10 per bottle (compared to a tin of tomatoes which you can get on sale for about $1 per tin). Not real thrifty.
Some church members are keen on and adept in food storage here. But many church members don’t bother trying to do food storage, because there is no real guide and it becomes unaffordable to import the products, cooking tools and suggestions they feel obligated to because of the American food storage lists. You might think this is just an Australian problem, but I have family in Europe—they have been advised to not collect food storage because the housing space is limited and food can be so expensive that it is too difficult to make food storage into policy. So they are told to not bother, and skip “provident living” activities.
So does this mean food storage is really just a North American thing? This week in Queensland would prove differently. Those of us who have food storage are safe to stay, or can be comfortably relocated to a dry spot till we can return home. But I am anxious to help the branch members who have been displaced. I am sad for those who invested their limited food storage on freezer items—all which are inevitably defrosted and rotting in flood water. I felt a little dirty when I heard of a family searching empty grocery aisles for milk for their children, because I had a stock of powdered milk at home.
Now, in my next life, when I become an independent billionaire, I hope to travel to each country of the world, experience the culture and create an informed food storage list based on the local economy, food supplies and culture. No joke. I have thought about this long before this flood because I was so annoyed with the standard suggestion lists. In the meantime, am I asking too much for people to send food storage suggestions? Especially those who have served missions and are award of dietary differences, or been in situations where they have lived off of their food storage? American suggestions are welcome as well– don’t hold back! But please omit recipes with brand-name cake mixes, butterscotch chips, etc.
For me… I have noticed the absence of eggs. My bread recipe calls for eggs, so I wished I had a powdered version of eggs, though I haven’t really needed them. (and some people here have chickens, but the weather has them spooked so they aren’t laying). I would also add more pop-top tinned food- i.e. the kind you can open and eat without cooking if necessary, and insect repellent. I also always have alcohol. If it is too wet to start a fire, and the power is out, alcohol works just as well as lighter fluid, and people gift it to us for free at Christmas. I have a great recipe for damper- an Australian quick-rise bread that can be cooked on an open fire, in case the power is out. So….Please share your suggestions… and help make food storage an “international church” reality.
Jan 4 update: Church members and others who had the majority of food storage in the freezer lost all of their food storage as a result of the loss of power. All of the grocery stores in Emerald had water, one was almost completely submerged. As a result, and because the roads are still closed, there were helicopter drops of food in the isolated areas, so people have been provided for. This week, one of the stores has re-opened, but bread, milk and cash is being rationed. The threat now is that the flooded area was a farming area, meaning that in the next year, they anticipate the cost of squash, pumpkin and other destroyed crops to at least triple. It is an amazing testimony of food storage…even if it is sans butterscotch chips