Recently, in preparation for a weeklong camping trip, a friend of mine with a sense of humor sent me the link for information about Costco's "Augason Farms Gluten Free Complete Meal Pack." While I felt that carrying 18 10-pound buckets of dehydrated meals in my backpack sounded like a lousy idea, it did set me thinking about the importance of emergency preparedness for those of us with food allergies.
For some people, eating foods they are allergic to is potentially more lethal than not eating at all. And after watching earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, wars, and other disasters rock our world as of late, let me step up on my soapbox and encourage all you allergic readers to have an emergency food supply for yourself. Because chances are, even if you have friends who are prepared enough for two, they won't be prepared enough for you and your unique dietary needs.It is particularly worth noting here that one of the biggest advancements in understanding Celiac disease happened in the Netherlands during what was called the Winter of Hunger. It was the final winter of World War II, and so many foods were in short supply that people began turning to unusual sources of nutrients, such as tulip bulbs, for survival. In the midst of this, a pediatrician named Willem-Karel Dicke, who had been working with children who had incurable digestive distress and malnutrition, documented that these patients, deprived of grains in their diets, began to recover. Celiac disease (under different names, and with different assumed causes) had been known about for centuries, but Dicke was the first doctor to formally link the cause to gluten.
I think that in our society today we run the risk of going the opposite direction if disaster strikes; The foods that will inevitably survive (being basically indestructible) are most likely Wonder Bread and Twinkies. Those of us living in the luxury of a gluten-free diet might find that it's a bit more difficult to do under such circumstances.
The Augason Farms pack might not be your best options, particularly if you, like most normal allergics, are allergic to more than just gluten. The pack is rife with other common allergens, and would probably be the death of me, personally, within two or three days. But there are a lot of great meal bars and foods with lengthy shelf lives that you can keep on hand. Check out these Top Five Backpack Foods for a place to start looking, and some short-term survival snack suggestions, then either develop your own emergency food supply . . . or buy tulip bulbs. One of the two. Just make sure you have something edible on hand.