Let’s Talk Food: Are you prepared for a disaster?

April is Tsunami Awareness Month and very important to our family. My sister and I were raised by a mother who was washed away by the 1946 tsunami and lost her mother, father, niece and nephew. When the waves subsided, my mother had no clothes except what she was wearing, no parents and no home. That incident had a lasting effect on her when raising us, as she taught us to always be prepared with food.

So, what if we had a disaster such as a tsunami or hurricane and had no electricity for several days? Would we be prepared to take care of our family for at least three days with what we have in our pantry?


The Federal Emergency Management Administration recommends we prepare for an earthquake, hurricane or other disaster with adequate food and water. Keep food in a dry, cool spot, or even better, a dark area. Open food boxes and other resealable containers carefully so you can close them tightly after each use. Wrap perishable foods such as cookies and crackers in plastic bags and keep them in sealed containers. Empty open packages of sugar, dried fruits and nuts into screw-top jars or airtight canisters for protection from pests. Inspect all food for signs of spoilage. Throw out canned goods that become swollen, dented or corroded. Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies, dated with a marker. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front.

FEMA recommends the following be used within six months: boxed powdered milk, dried fruit, crackers and potatoes.

The following need to be used within one year: canned condensed meat and vegetable soups; canned fruits, fruit juices and vegetables; ready-to-eat cereals and uncooked instant cereal; peanut butter; jelly; hard candy and canned nuts; and vitamins.

The following can be stored indefinitely as long as they are in proper containers: Wheat; vegetable oils; dried corn; baking powder; soybeans; instant coffee, tea and cocoa; salt; non-carbonated soft drinks; white rice; bouillon products; dry pasta; and powdered milk in nitrogen-packed cans.

OfftheGrid.com recommends the following to be kept for emergencies, with equipment to cook without electricity:

1. Pasta, which it is a good source of carbohydrates and stores well.

2. Whole grains, as they store better than flour; however, you need to be able to grind the grains into flour.

3. Brown rice, which stores well.

4. Breakfast cereal that does not have too much sugar. It is a comfort food for kids.

5. Dried beans store very well and are a good source of protein.

6. Canned meats such as chicken, tuna and salmon. During a disaster, meat will be the hardest type of food to find.

7. Beef or turkey jerky keeps well at room temperature.

8. Vacuum packed summer sausage, which stores well.

9. Cheese that is triple dipped in wax, making an airtight seal around it.

10. Canned vegetables and fruit. You can also save the packing water from the vegetables to make soup stock.

11. Powdered milk, which can be mixed with bottled water to make milk.

12. Spaghetti sauce is ready to use and an easy meal.

13. Cream of mushroom condensed soup to make casseroles.

14. Bouillon that can last at room temperature and be used to make soups.

15. Sugar, which can last a long time in an airtight container.

16. Honey, which will last forever.

17. Salt for food preservation.

18. Spices that your family likes.

19. Baking essentials such as baking soda, baking powder and yeast. You will be amazed how wonderful a cake can be “baked” in a dutch oven that had charcoal on the bottom and top.

20. Peanut butter, a comfort food for kids as well as adults.

21. Dried fruit, which would be a good source of vitamin C.

22. Nuts, a good source of minerals, vitamins and protein.

23. Cooking oil and shortening.

24. Coffee and tea for the morning beverage.

25. Hard candies, for energy and a comfort food.

Mormons are known for always being prepared for adversity, and you can be sure they have the following in case of any emergency:

1. Clothing and bedding

2. Drinking water

3. Financial reserves

4. Important documents

5. Basic food storage or foods lasting 30 years or more: wheat, white rice, corn, sugar, pinto beans, rolled oats, pasta, potato flakes, dried apple slices, non-fat powdered milk and dehydrated carrots.

Also very important to have in your emergency box of food is a can opener.

Foodie bites

• Today and tomorrow, the European standard menu as well as the cuisine of Germany will be featured at the Bamboo Hale at Hawaii Community College.

• Next week, HCC’s second-year culinary students will feature two nights of five-course wine tasting dinners, from 6-9 p.m. Monday (April 23) and Friday (April 27), at the Bamboo Hale. Wines will be paired by Ryan Kadota of Kadota Liquors. There is limited seating, so reservations are necessary. Call 934-2591 to make a reservation.

If you are able to attend, please make every effort to do so as dinners will make you proud of the students coming out of our Hilo campus, thanks to instructors Brian Hirata and Karen Daniels.


• Tickets are available for the Rotary Club of South Hilo’s Hilo Huli at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, May 6, at Moku‘ola Island (Coconut Island). Parking will be available at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, with shuttle buses running; so you need not worry about parking or walking too far. Members of the club, Arabel Camblor, Nate Chang, Valta Cook, Tom English, John FitzGerald, Rick Fuller, Kevin Fung, Maurice Goulding, Gene Hennen, David Hurd, Charlene Iboshi, Tracy Kim, Randy Kurohara, Lisa Kwee, Phoebe Lambeth, Rosemary Linden, Keith Marrack and Benson Medina, would be happy to sell you tickets. Tickets also are available at Aiona Car Sales and online www.hilohuli.org.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.