• Bird Flu and Egg Shortage

    Bird flu causes egg shortagePicture this. You go to the supermarket and grab a carton of a dozen eggs. You open it and find four missing. So you pick up another carton. Same thing. You try again. Every carton contains only eight eggs.

    Thanks to avian influenza (bird flu), that’s what happened to companies that produce liquid, frozen, dehydrated, and freeze dried eggs.

    As of June 17, avian influenza had affected more than 35 million egg-laying hens. Businesses making egg products like dehydrated eggs lost more than 30 percent of their hens, according to an American Egg Board blog. That’s two out of every six eggs.

    “America’s egg farmers are working hard to find sources for their manufacturing partners and food service customers. However, due to the current supply disruption, there may be some shortages,” the blog said.

    Like human influenza, many strains of avian influenza exist.

    Most are low pathogenic, which means poultry don’t get very sick. Some are high pathogenic, or deadly to domestic flocks. Some can kill 90 to 100 percent of birds in a flock in two days.

    Bird flu carrierWild water birds carry the disease and usually don’t get sick, according to the CDC. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service believes those birds likely brought the virus to the U.S. Once here, it may have passed from bird to bird through contact with feces or through the air in poultry houses. The virus could have flown from farm to farm on water birds, hitchhiked on contaminated vehicles and clothing or, though unlikely, been blown by high wind carrying dust and feathers. Scientists have found the virus on the shells of eggs.

    The CDC identified three high pathogenic strains in this year’s outbreak. None of them seem to jump easily from birds to people, though one is similar to a strain that made people sick in Europe, Asia and South Africa.

    “These specific viruses have not caused infections in people anywhere in the world,” said Alicia Fry from the CDC, in an April 22 news conference. “While we are cautiously optimistic that there will not be human cases, we must be prepared for that possibility, and we are taking routine preparedness steps.”

    Almost everyone who caught the virus worked closely with birds. People can’t get bird flu from eating properly cooked birds or eggs, said Angela Shaw, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and extension specialist in food safety at Iowa State University.

    “Avian influenza is not a food borne pathogen,” Shaw said.

    Egg prices caused by bird flu US Department of Agriculture

    Even though we probably won’t get bird flu, it still affects our wallets.

    The USDA’s Egg Market News Report said for the week of June 22, a dozen large eggs sold for a $2.35 national average. The average price over the last three years, for the same week, was about 95 cents.

    Almost all of the nation’s eggs are spoken for. And it’s not like stores can stock a surplus of fresh ones. There’s such a thing as a rotten egg.

    That’s why many retailers and food service customers are having trouble getting products like freeze dried eggs.

    Companies making such egg products are struggling to get enough eggs to keep up with demand. Here’s what the USDA’s Egg Market News Report said about late June’s dried egg supply:

    “Supplies are very light as processors work to supply needs hand to mouth to regular commitments.”

    Individuals can still get and store eggs like the powdered and freeze-dried ones we sell. Frankly, we at Emergency Essentials are lucky: we were able to secure one of the last available shipments of freeze-dried eggs before the shortage became complete. Those eggs should be available though by the end of July.

    Because these eggs are pasteurized during processing, no one has to worry about them containing creepy crawlies like bacteria or viruses.

    Avian flu usually decreases during the summer, because the sun’s radiation more quickly breaks down the virus. However, agriculture specialists are bracing for autumn.

    “We can’t really predict what’s going to happen in the future,” said David Swayne, from the USDA’s Southeast Poultry Research Lab, on April 22. “But once the birds go in the summer up to their northern breeding grounds, it’s really not sure if they will be able to bring the virus back south or not.

    “We have to prepare for that potential option.”

    --Melissa Rivera

     

    Sources

    American Egg Board: http://www.aeb.org/blog/food-manufacturers

    Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/avian-in-birds.htm

    U.S. Department of Agriculture: http://www.usda.gov/documents/usda-avian-influenza-factsheet.pdf; http://www.usda.gov/documents/avian-influenza-biology-outbreaks-qa.pdf

    USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: “Epidemiologic and Other Analyses of HPAI-Affected Poultry Flocks: June 15, 2015 Report”: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_dis_spec/poultry/downloads/Epidemiologic-Analysis-June-15-2015.pdf

    Transcript: USDA and CDC Update to Media on Highly Pathogenic H5N2 Avian Influenza Outbreaks, April 22, 2015

    http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2015/04/0113.xml

    Iowa State University, “Eggs and Poultry Safe to Eat, Iowa State University Food Safety Specialist Stresses,” April 21, 2015: http://www.cals.iastate.edu/news/releases/eggs-and-poultry-safe-eat-iowa-state-university-food-safety-specialist-stresses

    USDA Egg Market News Report, June 22, 2015: http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/pybshellegg.pdf

    Posted In: Additional Reading, Food Storage Tagged With: freeze-dried eggs, egg shortage, egg prices, bird flu, avian flu

  • What Should You Do During a Wildfire?

    “It was so frightening that I couldn’t even cry.”

    Santa Clarita Fire (AP) Associated Press

    That was one woman’s reaction to the brushfire in Santa Clarita, California earlier this week. As of yesterday afternoon, the fire was 95% contained. Firefighters are currently working to extinguish the remainder of the flames.

    We’re not even into July, and already there have been 2,486 wildfires in California in this year. The report from NBC Los Angeles says that number is “up from 1,654 the state has averaged over the last five years.” So far 8,600 acres have burned.

    Wildfires can happen anywhere. And, more often than not (try 90% more often), these fires are started by humans. Nature plays her part in starting fires, too, such as lightning strikes or super-duper hot weather. Whether it’s intentional (ie. arson), from lack of caution and fire safety (such as while out camping), humans are a big contributor to the roughly 1.2 million acres burned each year in the United States. To put that into contrast, 1.2 million acres burning up is like the entire state of Delaware being torched. Sure, it’s not a huge state, but with a population nearing 1 million people, that's a lot of livelihood. Southern California alone has over 22 million people, and its dry, hot climate makes it extremely prone to wildfires.

    Wildfires are fast. They can travel at speeds of 14 miles an hour, engulfing everything in its path. 14 miles an hour might not seem fast when you’re driving in your car, but when you're running...that's quite a pace to keep up. 14 miles an hour just got very, very tiring. That’s one reason wildfires are so dangerous. They can catch up to you without much warning.

    How are you supposed to prepare for a wildfire? First off, you should plan ahead so you know what to do when one does come. If you don’t, you could end up like this family:

     

     

    As seen in this video, not planning can result in a very scary, dangerous situation. So please, plan ahead!

    You should also do things aside from just putting your plan on paper. Make sure the surrounding area of your home is free of debris and dead grass, trees, and anything else that can be used as fire fodder. Having well-watered grass can slow the approach of fire, too.

    Fire Approaching House (NY Times) New York Times

    Once the fire gets too close and evacuation warnings are issued, strongly consider leaving your home. As per your plan you just made in regards to wildfires, grab your most important documents and belongings, hop in your car, and get out of there. Your own safety is far more important than your possessions.

    That being said, you may have the desire to stick around and defend your home. You can do that, but beware: it was very dangerous, especially if you don’t know exactly what you need to do. Perhaps I’ll write up a “How to Defend Your Home from Invading Forest Fires” blog in the near future, but until you know what to do, it’s better to be safe.

    Now, before we get too carried away in our loathing of these wildfires, there is a bit more information you might want to be made aware of. Although wildfires can be quite dangerous and destructive to us humans, they actually play a very important role in nature. National Geographic teaches us that

    “[Wildfires] return nutrients to the soil by burning dead or decaying matter. They also act as a disinfectant, removing disease-ridden plants and harmful insects from a forest ecosystem. And by burning through thick canopies and brushy undergrowth, wildfires allow sunlight to reach the forest floor, enabling a new generation of seedlings to grow.”

    That’s not to say we should be starting fires all over the place. Au contraire, we should do all we can to avoid igniting wildfires in the first place. After all, Smokey the Bear believes that “only you can prevent wildfires.” And, while natural fires benefit nature, man-made fires do not.

     

    Have you been threatened by a wildfire? What did you do to prepare?

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Planning Tagged With: forest fire, brushfire, California, wildfire, Prepare

  • Baby Step Into Prepping

    Baby Step Faceplant The struggle is real.

    Remember that time when you were first learning to walk, when you took your very first baby step? Those were the times when…what’s that? You don’t remember? Oh, of course not. Silly me. Let me explain what it was like. You struggled, you fought for balance, and the next thing you knew…BAM! You’re on your face.

    Again.

    But that’s OK, you don’t need to feel embarrassed. I was the same way. So was every other human being that’s ever learned to walk. We start off on our hands and knees and slowly work up the strength to use our legs. But before we become proficient at it, we fall down, over and over and over. It’s a good thing little kids don’t know the meaning of the word "defeat," otherwise there would be a lot more adults crawling than walking. But crawling isn’t necessarily easier than walking, no matter what your kid-self remembers (or assumes to remember). Crawling is just the first step into a bigger world.

    Preparing for disasters is the same way. Daisy Luther from The Organic Prepper shared her story about how she went from newbie prepper to veteran status in her post entitled How to Prep When You’re NOT an Epic Wildernes Survival Guru. When she first started, she said she couldn’t even light a fire that would keep burning. She recalls a time when she first started out learning how to take care of herself from a survival standpoint. Nothing she did worked out. She lamented,

     

    “I broke things, froze wood to the wall of my cabin, shivered when the fire went out, freaked out when there was a bear on my porch, climbed out a window and dug my shovel out of the snow with cooking pots because I had left it outside and snow had blown against my door, burying the shovel and trapping us inside.”

     

    Yowzah! That doesn’t sound like a good time at all. But, as time went on, she improved. No matter how incompetent we may think we are, we can always improve.

    Big Journeys Begin With Baby StepsEverybody has to begin somewhere. Start slow. Baby steps. Do you have a flashlight? You do? Well look at you go! I bet you have some canned food in your cupboards, too. Go ahead, take a look…So, what did you find? Soup, beans, and chili, eh? Well what do you know…You’re a prepper and you didn’t even know it!

    You see, it doesn’t have to be hard. Without even trying, we’ve identified a few items you can use if an emergency happened tomorrow. But don’t stop there! Continue building your emergency supplies, little by little, every month. Buy an extra can or two of food while you’re out grocery shopping. It’ll start adding up, and you won’t even notice a huge difference in your bank account.

    It is good to remember, too, that canned food from the stores aren’t packaged to last nearly as long as our freeze-dried food, which is good for 25 years. That being said, you can still rotate through your older food by using it in your meals. Just remember to replace it if you do use it!

    No matter what your background is, or what your current living conditions or abilities, you can become strong in your emergency preparations. Preparing doesn’t have to be daunting. Just use baby steps until you’re sufficiently prepared…and then keep going! Because being prepared is a continual process.

    You can do it. I believe in you!

     

    How did you start off in your prepping? Was it easy? Was it worth it? Let us know in comments!

     

    Practice Your Prep

    Posted In: Additional Reading Tagged With: start small, prepping, baby steps

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