Disaster Cuisine

January 18, 2010 in Gardening


[When I donate during disasters, like the Indonesian Tsunami, I give to the UN World Food Programme. Please do the same for Haiti through THIS LINK]

Just like you, I have been struggling with the contrast between our cozy home life and the cataclysm in Haiti.

We are snuggled away in our snowy retreat, planning our gardening, animal husbandry, and permaculture projects for the year.

In Haiti, they are in shock and bleeding and dying and starving and in enormous extremis.

We are on the cool side of the moon, they are crackling on the surface of a cruel sun.

Haiti has suffered an enormous blow but lets all be honest, they have been suffering, in our backyard, for a VERY long time.

Hunger has stalked her streets for decades, centuries?

Unfortunately, people can adapt to very poor diets nutritionally and calorie wise. It means retarded growth and impacts on mental acuity in the short and long term.


What is happening since the earthquake has magnified this problem tremendously. Not only have the stores collapsed but emergency stores on hand were trapped in collapsed warehouses.

Thats the short term problem. In the medium and long term, the problem is a huge and expensive one. Haiti imports a large part of its food and the way it did that was through it’s port.

Guess what happened to that port during the earthquake?

You guessed it, utterly smashed to bits.

Haiti 2010 earthquake: collapse of port complex

[Give to help feed the people in Haiti in their hour of need]

As one resident of Port au Prince said, without the port, Haiti will starve and it will starve almost immediately.

What faces Haiti and the world next is the complexity of rebuilding. One non-negotiable project is the port. I have the feeling that donor countries with be sure to get that done because it is a hugely visible deliverable that will be easy to highlight in press releases, etc. I know, I am cynical, what can I say.

The harder part will be to remove endless dump trucks of rubble, where will that go?

Rebuilding will be also about putting in place things that were not there before, like sewers for one.


I have written at my organic permaculture homesteading blog Humble Garden about efforts (to which I am contributing to in ways that I can at the moment) to help the people of Haiti begin to build their food security through permaculture.

Read this post “One Helltastic Week: Haiti and Permaculture First Responders” to get more details.

Think urban gardening, think eco-villages, think rational and systemic design that uses appropriate low cost technologies available to Haitians on the ground.

I was curious about what the World Food Programme delivers to people in a disaster zone where there is unreliable water access and then what else it might deploy when water becomes available for cooking and not just emergency hydration. These foods will never be on Bon Appetit but they are formulated to deliver calories AND extremely critical minerals and nutrients that are needed to survive.

I found the following images at the WFP site and thought I would share them with you. It should get you thinking about how you can help now and in the future. I have pasted in their descriptions of each food.

[Give to help feed the people in Haiti in their hour of need]


(Copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud)

High Energy Biscuits are wheat-based biscuits which provide 450 kilocalories of energy and at least 10 grams of protein per 100 grams. They are fortified with vitamins and minerals.


(Copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud)

Compressed food bars (BP5) – These are often used in disaster relief operations when local food can’t be distributed or prepared. They can also be used as a supplement to local food when treating moderate malnutrition.


(Copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud)

Date Bars – These date-filled biscuits can be used as an energy-providing snack in a variety of situations. They are fortified with vitamin A and iron. They are easy to distribute, don’t require any preparation and are a known and accepted food.


(Copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud)

Fortified Blended Foods (FBFs) – FBFs are cereals mixed with other ingredients such as soya, beans, pulses, oil seeds and dried skimmed milk. They are fortified with vitamins and minerals. Corn Soya Blend (CSB), which is shown here, is the main blended food distributed by WFP.


(Copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud)

Ready-to Use Supplementary Food (RUSF) – RUSFs are well suited to meet the nutritional needs of young and moderate malnourished children. This is a peanut-based one which also contains vegetable oil and dried skimmed milk.


(Copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud)

Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food – This product is mostly used in emergency operations or at the beginning of a WFP intervention for prevention or treatment of moderate malnutrition.


(Copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud)

Micronutrient Powder, or ‘Sprinkles’ – These are individual sachets containing the recommended daily intake of 16 vitamins and minerals for one person. They can be sprinkled into home-prepared food.


(Copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud)

The Food Basket (General Food Distributions) – The key components of the WFP food basket are: a staple such as wheat flour or rice; lentils, chickpeas or other pulses; vegetable oil (fortified with vitamin A and D); sugar; and iodised salt. Often these are complemented with fortified foods, such as Corn Soya Blend.

Please give what you can. I know your budget is stressed, ours sure is. I was only able to give a small amount, for now.

What I could do was to blog about this and encourage you to also give so that this disaster cuisine can tide the Haitians over until they have what they need to make their own delicious traditional meals.

[Give to help feed the people in Haiti in their hour of need]