Are You Gluten Prepared?

The reality of a natural disaster or emergency situation is very real.  Depending on the type of disaster, are you prepared to stay gluten free?  I have been involved in a number of emergency situations.  Being prepared goes a long way.

Several years ago, I was in San Diego, CA.  for a lecture.  During the trip, the power went out in the entire southern half of the state.  No one knew why.  Cell phones were useless.  I was disconnected from the internet, and a transient Dark Ages set in.

I was staying at a hotel in the downtown district, and people quickly went into panic mode.  The streets

filled with people looking to find food.  Restaurants ran out of food within hours.  When the darkness of night set in, it got worse.  Imagine being surrounded by that many people in closed quarters.  The food was gone, communications with the outside world were cut off, and there were no lights, air conditioning, or refrigeration.

The people were stressed, they were hot and sweating. The smell of body odor permeated through the hotel lobby.  The tension and fear were palpable.  The hotel I stayed in was actually serving candy and processed cheese.  That’s all they had left to serve.  People were grabbing and gobbling it up.  Not me…

Luckily, I was prepared.  I always travel with food rations.  Beef jerky, canned fish, grain free granola, and nuts can go a long way in a tight spot.  Fortunately the power was only out for a day.  But what if the power had not come back on?  Would you be prepared to make it?  Would you be able to stay calm and gluten free?

Hurricane Ike struck Houston in the Summer of 2008.  If you aren’t familiar with Houston, it is HOT in the Summer.  Temperatures range in the upper 90’s to 110 degrees.  The humidity can be stifling.  The air is heavy, and when you sweat, it sticks on your skin offering very little cooling relief.  When Ike hit our coastline, the power was the first thing to go.  That means no AC.  That means your fridge and freezer start to heat up quick.  The gas pumps running on electricity are inoperable.  No TV, no computers, no ability to charge your electronic devices, no cooking with microwaves or electric stoves.

The morning after the hurricane blew through, the grocery store shelves were empty.  Many of them stayed closed for days due to the power outage.  People were acting erratic.  They were scared.   I was at home with my three sons.  Fortunately my wife was out of town visiting her parents so she didn’t have to go through the first wave.

FEMA trucks were delivering ice if you cared to wait in line for hours to get it.  Bottom line, if you weren’t prepared, your gluten free diet would be in jeopardy, and so would your health.

Depending on your geographic location, you may have to contend with hurricanes, earthquakes, winter storms, power outages, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, etc.  Now I don’t say all of this to be a fear monger.  I say it because it could happen to you (maybe it already has).  I say it to get you thinking about preparedness.  Most of the things below are common sense.  That being said, knowing what you should do and actually doing it are two different things.  Hopefully this list of considerations and action items will give you a reminder to prepare appropriately.

How To Stay Gluten Free During an Emergency

  1. Always keep some cash on hand.  When emergencies strike, cash is king.  If electronic payment methods go out, you will be able to use cash for food, water, gas, etc.
  2. Pick a place in your home to store non-perishable canned foods.  We can some of our own.  Canned meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables are all obviously gluten free.  If you don’t can yourself, you can stock up on things like canned salmon, tuna, sardines, organic vegetables, etc.  All of these are typically available at most grocery stores.  Try to have a month supply stocked away.  Canned foods (if done properly) can sit on the shelf form 5 years without spoiling.
  3. Stock up on nuts in the shell.  They can last for up to 2 years without going bad.  With some nuts being 70% fat, these are a great resource for Calories when you need them.  Buying in the shell also prevents the potential for gluten cross contamination.
  4. travel gluten freeStock up on dehydrated meats and fruits.  Vacuum sealed jerky and fruit also have a long shelf life and can provide a solution to food storage using less shelf space.  I use grass fed jerky (Nick’s Sticks are great), fruit, and nuts frequently when I travel.  This is one of the reasons I didn’t have to panic when the power went out on me in San Diego.
  5. Have a water reserve.  You can purchase water storage tanks for the pantry on line.  You can also purchase 5 gallon bottles at most grocery stores.  You can fill up the bath tubs, but by the time emergency strikes, it may be too late.  I would recommend keeping at least 20 gallons of water handy at all times.
  6. Pick up a portable water filter from the sporting goods store.  If you run out of water and have to drink from a pool, pond, stream etc, you want something that will pull potential pathogens out of the water.
  7. Consider buying a deep freezer.  These can be used to store larger quantities of grass fed meats, vegetables, and fruits.  As a matter of fact, having a deep freezer full of meat is what saved me and my sons from going hungry after Hurricane Ike.  In my experience, frozen foods will last about a week before thawing in a deep freeze.  The first week of power outage we were able to cook mean and heat up veggies on our gas grill – which brings me to #8…
  8. Buy a propane powered grill.  Make sure you have a couple of reserve propane tanks as well.  This will give you the ability to cook if the power goes out.
  9. Consider a generator.  You can buy portable gas and diesel models for a reasonable price (especially used ones).  If you can afford a whole house natural gas generator, buy one.  The ability to keep electricity going is definitely a bonus for comfortable survival.
  10. Have some reserve gasoline cans in the garage.  This could help you run a gas generator or your vehicle should the gas pumps go down.
  11. Consider the benefits of gun and knife ownership.  When an emergency occurs, you may need protection from looters.  I have witnessed looting first hand.  It is not pretty.  Owning a gun and knife might also come in handy if the proverbial poo really hits the fan, and you find yourself in need of hunting.  Don’t forget the ammo.
  12. If it comes down to starving vs. eating gluten, you might want to consider keeping some Gluten Shield handy along with Biotic Defense.  At the very least you can minimize the damage.

Take the time to prepare today.  Remember that just like an ounce of prevention = a pound of cure, an ounce of preparedness = a pound making life a whole lot easier.

If you have tips to add or resources for any of the above, please feel free to share with us below…

Always looking out for you,

Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior

5 thoughts on “Are You Prepared To Be Gluten Free During an Emergency?

  1. Jamie says:

    Dr. Osborne, I was at home in La Jolla, CA when that happened, and it was scary! My number one concern when that happened was not the food, but the water! The Glacier water machines were immediately out of order, and police were notifying us that the tap water needed to be boiled before drinking. Since no one could get fuel either, I was concerned that I only had a quarter tank of gas in my car. Luckily, I was prepared for 48 hours and the power came back on after about 12 hours. However, the event really put preparedness into perspective! At the time, no one knew if the power was just out in San Diego or if it was the entire region or perhaps the entire country.

  2. Mindy Page says:

    Dr. Osborne,

    This is a great article!!

    I live in earthquake/fire country and while trying to prepare an emergency food supply discovered the nutrient dense Medjool date. Medjools are loaded with minerals, vitamins, fiber, and 23 types of amino acids! In a crisis we will all need a little carbohydrate to keep the faith!
    Research these (jewels) on-line for amazing information. You can buy them organic in many different sizes. Filled with micro nutrients medjools form of sugar (frutose/glucose) will blend nicely with nuts. (Muslims also use them to break their fast during Ramadan.) They keep beautifully in the freezer for a year. Waiting for the new harvest of dates in September. I’ll be stocking up!

  3. Dana says:

    Thanks for the tip on Medjool dates! I usually just eat them…oink, oink. But its nice to know they can be frozen. Costco sells a 2lb box for eight or nine dollars. I’ll be stocking up, too since The Farmer’s Almanac forecasts a much colder winter than normal for 2013-2014.

  4. Annelise Monsen says:

    Thank you, Dr. O for this inspiring article! If I had been from the Asia I guess I would go and buy a big sack of Rice. The Italian would keep olive Oil in large cans as well as tomsto, online and spices Besides dried Meat and Canned fish I would have a book on weed food to eat like dandilion.
    As to water one can buy Life Straw at Amazon that Will convert any water to become drinkable,
    Thank you Dr.O for reminding us!

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