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Disaster food: Peaches, peas pasta and peanut butter

Friday 14 Dec 2012 6:42 a.m.

Peanut butter - a lifesaver?

Peanut butter - a lifesaver?

Forget the vacuum-packed, freeze-dried emergency supplies - when disaster strikes, head to the pantry and hunt out the flour, sugar, rice, pasta and peanut butter.

It might sound bland, but a new study from the University of Otago has found that these foods, along with vegetable oil and wholegrain oats, meet all daily energy requirements and cost as little as $2.22 a day, making them the ideal supplies for families to have on hand in case of emergency.

While this was the cheapest option, the study also looked at the cost of a number of foods that don't require cooking and can be eaten straight out of a can, or after soaking.

For $3.67 per day, a man could meet his energy needs with wholegrain oats, vegetable oil, dried peas, Weetbix, sugar, peanut butter, sultanas and peanuts.

However, to meet all nutritional requirements, you'd need to fork out $7.10 per day for wholemeal flour, dried peas, sardines, peanut butter, sugar, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tinned peaches, apricots and fruit salad.

"In a disaster situation getting the perfect amounts of vitamins and minerals every day is of course not a priority," study co-author Mary-Ann Carter says.

"Overall, we were surprised at how low these food costs were and so it seems that storing the recommended three days per person is likely to be very feasible for nearly all families."

A mathematical technique called linear programming was used to assess New Zealand foods by price and nutrition data.

The method could then be used to work out the lowest total food cost to provide a set amount of dietary energy or all required nutrients.


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