Why I Won’t Chuck My Canned Peas

emergency_pyramidVia Instapundit, I came across two pieces advising the home cook on the things they should excommunicate from the kitchen. One is from Mark Bitman (surprise the wife didn’t see this one first) at The New York Times, the other from Megan McArdle at The Atlantic. Both are well worth a read and I have to agree with most of their lists.

But I’m not going to be tossing out canned vegetables or the bottled water just yet. I would never ever use canned red beans to make red beans and rice (perhaps I’ll share that recipe soon), but they do come in handy for chili (another recipe I might share). Further, as a kid who grew up on canned, tender young sweet peas (yes, even in Louisiana), I can’t quite bring myself around to the flavor of frozen peas. Bottled water, I can take or leave in terms of flavor. As McArdle points out, bottle water IS tap water in many cases (Aquafina, for example). And New York City tap water actually beats most bottled water in taste tests.

But I’m holding on to canned goods and bottle water for one good reason: emergencies.

As the campaign from the Ad Council asks, “On day three of an emergency, what would your food pyramid look like?” Sure, call me paranoid, but any New Yorkers who lived through the blackout, and any Louisiana readers who’ve lived through the past few hurricanes no what it’s like to go anywhere from 24 hours to a week or more without power — which means no refrigeration and, in some cases, no stove. Even the gas might be turned off in some situations. And, in New York, if you live on a high enough floor, the tap water won’t be able to make it up to your faucets without the electrical assistance of a pump (and that’s ignoring tainted water due to lack of filtration) etc.

Canned foods and bottled water have a place in any home. Sure, those in New York could make the argument that they take up too much of very valuable and limited space. But during the blackout in 2003, I’d gone through everything in the fridge and freezer in less than 24 hours and — due to lack of foresight (and funds) — didn’t have any cash on hand when all the ATMs went down. (A stack of cash in the house is another suggestion.)

A few days (or more) worth of protein, veggies and water won’t take up that much space in your home.  And should the unthinkable happen, you’ll be more than happy to have it.

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