Monday, August 29, 2011

Hope all is well

Gluten-Free Living survived Hurricane Irene…all of us…variously located on the east coast and, in the case of Vicki, our graphic artist, on an island reachable only by ferry. She evacuated. The rest of us stayed put.

Speaking for my gluten-free self, I was ready even before Irene became a preliminary news item. The proliferation of gluten-free food items means I always have a freezer full of food. (The preparation advice was to crank up the temperature of the refrigerator so if the power went out, warming would take longer. Also, we were advised to fill plastic containers with water and freeze them to fill any empty freezer spaces and lower the temperature further. PS: We didn’t lose power.) Amy’s daughter, her gluten-free family member, was safely back at college. As you’ve read, Kendall’s whole family was well prepared with GF food, whether they follow the diet or not! Vicki can eat anything.

Happenings like Irene might give us at least momentary pause as to what we will eat in the event of a disaster – with emphasis on momentary. As long as we are even minimally stocked, and as long as naturally gluten-free fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, beans, etc, are around, we can assume we won’t starve. Plus, now that we can depend on local supermarkets and other locations to stock gluten-free food items, chances are good we’ll find something on even the barest of shelves.

Perhaps. The reality here was that the shelves of most stores in this area were bare even early Friday. I stopped at the local A & P for a quart of milk at roughly 2 pm Friday and found nothing but goat or soy milk. And as you may know, the bottom line for the gluten-free diet is that even in an absolutely worst-case scenario, if we are starving to death and the only food available contains gluten, we should eat it! That’s advice from expert Peter Green, MD, in an article on disaster planning that we ran a few years ago. He said: “…If one had to eat food with questionable gluten content, I would bite the bullet and eat it. If gluten-containing foods are the only option, the damage created would eventually repair itself.” In other words, our intestines will heal; death is final.

As you probably know, the east coast shut down on Saturday: there was no public transportation, airports were closed, and low-lying areas had mandatory evacuations. This previously untested tactic of shutting down in advance of a storm has already been criticized and my guess is that the criticism will grow. I have no feelings on this one way or the other. But I did get pretty impatient with the media. For close to three days, it was the same on every channel, with reporters seeming to vie for the deepest flood water to stand in or the heaviest wind to withstand, with the goal of telling us not to do what they were doing! I am all for employing the media for things it can do that others can’t. Heck, we are the media! But I do think media overkill does not always influence events in a positive way. Enough said on that score because it’s a bit like biting the hand that feeds us.

With temperance in mind, our message is be prepared to deal with whatever comes, but don’t be overly concerned about whatever worst-case scenario you can conjure up. Yes, that’s the story that might make the media coverage, but it’s not what happens to most of us.

I hope all the gluten-free people on the east coast survived Irene as well as Gluten-Free Living did. But with serious flooding in many locations, the story isn’t over yet.

Ann Whelan

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