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Author’s Note: As I write we are out of state and due to the fires in California we could not get home if we wanted to. There are fires everywhere. In addition, there are hundreds of thousands in the state without power as the utility company responsible for fires last year has shut down power lines to prevent fires.
Hundreds of homes in our Stake are without power. Many, many throughout the state have been forced to evacuate. If you do not already have our Totally Ready evacuation checklist please visit TotallyReady.com and print one. If you have family and friends in California please send them the link. Please keep California in your prayers.
Australia had an unusually early and fairly severe flu season in 2019. This may foretell a serious outbreak on its way to the United States. Experts are urging Americans to get their flu shots as soon as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that often Australia’s flu season is a predictor the flu season ahead for the United States.
At the peak of the 2017-2018 season, the C.D.C. estimated that more than 56,000 Americans would die. Officials later established that 79,000 died. In 2017, Australia’s deadly season set off alarm bells in Britain, where tabloids dubbed the Australian flu season as “killer Aussie flu”. No such dire warnings were issued to Americans.
So here, we focus on preparing for pandemics or any type of health crisis or other emergency that may leave you or your family voluntarily quarantined.
When a pandemic strikes, we will be confined to our homes. The convenience of running to the grocery store will not be a possibility for however long our quarantine lasts. Food storage will become more important than ever. Since I have discussed food storage before, the question today is: Which foods do you need to have on hand to keep your healthy family members healthy and to help those who are ill to recover?
Now we pause momentarily to address our skeptics. You are thinking “This is way over the top.” So be warned – empty grocery store shelves are not a scare tactic or exaggeration. Shelves have been empty before – due to natural disasters, economic downturns, and truckers strikes. When everyone is in danger, employees will not show up to risk their lives to bag groceries, stock shelves, or drive the truck that delivers the foodstuffs. History indicates that such events happen from time-to-time, and when they come again, we can expect to find them where we live. It is not a matter of if but of when.
Back to our subject… To care for family members who are ill, there are several specific foods which should be stored. A pandemic flu is much more serious than a seasonal flu, however, many of the treatments for those suffering and recovering remain the same.
When children are young and suffer from a seasonal flu we are advised to feed them the BRAT diet as they recover. These foods will also help adults and all who are suffering from a pandemic flu.
B= Banana. Now we really can’t store these effectively except to freeze a few. Bananas freeze best when left in the skin and stored in a freezer bag. They are great blended into a drink or added to banana bread, but after being frozen they are not great for eating. As an option, you could store freeze dried bananas, and reconstitute them like the dried strawberries in your morning cereal.
R=Rice. This one is very easy to store and should already be a part of your 3 month supply as well as long term storage. Rice is easy to digest for anyone recovering from a stomach or intestinal illness and also for anyone who has had surgery and is on a limited diet. White rice is what you want. Long grain, short grain, it doesn’t matter, but it needs to be white. Rice can be purchased from the Church canneries or online, grocery stores, restaurant suppliers and membership stores. It will store for 20 plus years if kept in a cool, dark and dry environment. Pests and rodents love rice so be sure to store it in rodent proof containers.
Another use for rice: When suffering from the flu we always experience aches. A warm rice pack placed on an area that aches is wonderful. Make a few now or store a little extra rice so you have some to make rice packs when they are needed. By the way these also make great Christmas gifts for those suffering from Fibromyalgia and arthritis! The directions can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/TotallyReady/
A=Applesauce. This is one of those foods that should be on every shelf. It is easy to digest, perfect for infants and can be used in many recipes, making it easy to rotate. China has planted many apple orchards making our local apples less profitable to grow, and making it more difficult to find apples for canning. Growers in the US have been removing orchards because of the flood of cheaper apples from China. During a pandemic, this source of imported apples would be interrupted. If you are considering planting fruit trees you should consider apples. Apples store well in a cool environment. Our ancestors stored and ate them all winter without refrigeration. They are also very easy to can.
T=Toast. No, you can’t store large quantities of bread, but you can store flour and wheat to make your own. If you still have not learned the art of bread making, invite a friend or family member to teach you. There is nothing better than the smell of baking bread. That alone would cure me. No need to learn to grind wheat just learn to make a simple white bread using white flour.
A few more foods are essential:
Chicken soup. Yes, really. Studies have shown that there are real health benefits from eating chicken soup. It helps relieve chest and nasal congestion and may inhibit inflammation that leads to the sore throat and phlegm we hate. It is also nutritious and fights dehydration – and of course, chicken soup tastes good and is easy to digest.
Herbal teas. They are easy to digest, feel good on a sore throat, and help to keep a patient hydrated. Dehydration is the largest cause of death from the flu. Herbal teas like chamomile are soothing to the stomach, calm the nerves, and help relieve cold symptoms. Just ask your grandma if you don’t believe me. Don’t overlook Fennel and Raspberry herbal teas for their benefits as well. You may want to add honey to add to your tea, a must for sore throats.
Flavored gelatins. After surgery or serious illness, the first thing you may be given to eat is a gelatin. They are easy to swallow, ease the craving for something sweet, are easily digested, kids love them, can be served hot or cold, they help prevent dehydration and gelatin takes very little time and effort to prepare. All of these are important when you are a caregiver and your time is spent treating those who are ill.
Otter Pops. As I mentioned before, dehydration for those battling the flu, is a huge problem. Otter Pops provide liquid in a form the kids will love. Recently I had a friend tell me her husband always buys Otter Pops for their food storage, he’s an Otter Pop junkie. These are easy to place in the freezer and e have ready to eat in a few hours.
Juices. Juices are another way to maintain hydration. They can be used as drinks or frozen into popsicles. Juices other than citrus are the best to store for use during an illness because they are less acidic.
Pedialite. Great to give to anyone who you suspect is dehydrated.
Ginger Ale and Lemon-Lime sodas. These are great to settle the stomach, but do not rely on them as hydration sources. Sodas will dehydrate the body. But, if you can find Ginger Ale made with real ginger, there could be some legitimate benefits in treating nausea, settling the digestive tract, and even relieving arthritis symptoms, according to some research. Remember though, ginger flavoring is not enough – we are talking about real ginger as a food ingredient. Sounds like a good reason to store and use some dried ginger or ginger capsules – though clearly, fresh ginger has the most benefit.
It is so important to store liquids, from the chicken soup to the frozen pops to the real ginger ale. Have you ever been sick and had liquids forced on you by a loving mom? Can’t you hear her now: “Just drink a little more juice, it’s good for you.” Having juices, herbal teas, gelatins, and Otter Pops on hand makes hydration so much easier on the caregiver. One hour you take in juice, the next a popsicle and the next gelatin. Now you are much more likely to get the patient to cooperate and consume them all.
Food storage is an absolutely essential part of planning for a pandemic and other health emergency including the seasonal flu. Don’t delay. It is apple season, find some apples and start canning. Homemade applesauce can even be a thoughtful Christmas gift in an attractive jar with a personal label and note!