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22 November, 1999

Camp Food Detail

Organizing food for a field crew takes a lot of planning. We don't have a grocery store here. No bright lights, polished floors and thousands of items to choose from. Some field teams camp in remote areas and prepare their meals with only small stoves and aluminum cook sets. Well-established camps like ours at Lake Bonney make food preparation much simpler because we'll have pots and pans, a stove, refrigerator, and tables to work on. Even so, before leaving for the field, we had to carefully plan what we'd need. Once we're out there, there won't be any helicopters swinging by just to drop the powdered milk we might have forgotten.

Barb was in charge of figuring out quantities and going through the food stockroom checklist, marking down what we wanted. The checklist tells us what is available from food storage. Once she filled out the sheet, Barb, John L. and I went to see Dawn, who runs the stockroom. All non-perishable food items are kept upstairs, and frozen foods are stored in a freezer on the first floor. Fresh food (also known as "freshies") is supplied by the galley when it's available.

The storeroom has aisles organized by category, similar to a regular grocery store. Field teams who are camping will take more freeze-dried items than those like us with kitchen facilities. The freeze-dried cottage cheese shown here does not have a good reputation.

Nicole Turisch works on the limnology team in the Dry Valleys. She takes water samples from the lakes and spends much of her time patiently filtering them. Her job before coming here was to look at old water samples from the lakes and identify all the organisms. She may know more about the parcticular species of phytoplankton that live in the lake than just about anyone. I ran into Nicole as she was stocking up on Cadbury chocolate bars.

Once we collected the food from our list, we had to begin packing it up. We ended up with almost a thousand pounds of food to last seven people a month. Out of that, we had our maximum allotment of Cadbury bars- approximately three hundred! Overall, it seemed like way too much food to possibly get through.

Every box had to be weighed and labeled either DNF- do not freeze, KF- keep frozen, or CF- can freeze. The DNF foods include everything that comes in glass containers. What would happen if they froze? I was wearing three layers of polar fleece when I began moving everything on and off the scale. It got really hot up there!

Introducing Dawn, the food goddess. She's all bundled up because she's just come out of the walk-in freezer. Dawn keeps the stockroom running, and because of her organizational skills, everyone who works in the field gets to eat. John, Barb and I were trying to collect our food in record time, and didn't think we'd be able to pull it off before the stockroom closed for the day. Thanks to Dawn's friendly assistance (and willingness to stay open a bit longer than usual), we were able to get all our selecting and packing accomplished in one try.

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