Monday, December 29, 2008

Food, Food, We Love Food!

A very important part of doing research out in the field is staying well fed. All of the food we bring out with us to the Dry Valleys comes in a box, bag, or can. Because we don't always have a refrigerator, we don't really eat fresh foods. We make milk and juice from powder and even use dehydrated eggs. Here's the kitchen cupboards at one of the field camps in the Dry Valleys.
Every science group that comes out to the field camps brings their own food, but it often doesn't all get used. Lots of food gets left in the camp kitchen for other people to use. Some of it never really gets used and sits on the shelves for years and years. I really enjoy browsing the shelves in the kitchen looking for the oldest expiration date on food packages. Granola bars and beef jerky are generally the oldest. Today I found a Cliff bar at F6 camp that expired in 2003. I performed my own scientific experiment to see if Cliff bars change in quality over time. I banged it on the counter and the bar is a little hard. I couldn't bite through it and it tasted like cardboard. I've heard that the oldest beef jerky found and consumed expired in 1996 and that was found only last year.

Elizabeth, Becky, and I take turns making dinner in field camp. Here's a picture of Becky trying to decide between a box of Thai or a box of Mexican.

There is no running water in the field camps, so we try to use very few dishes when we eat. We often don't wash our bowls between breakfast and dinner, and only wipe them out to save water. So sometimes your dinner tastes a little bit like your breakfast. Yum, yum!
We spend large parts of the day out in the field, so we usually eat lunch away from camps. Remember those Cliff bars and beef jerky I was talking about? Those are our lunch! Here's a picture of Becky snacking on some of the food we bring out with us for long hikes.

Even though we don't have the best ingredients to create fancy meals, we eat pretty well out here and thinking of tasty dishes with what you can find on the camp shelves is always lots of fun. Happy Eating!