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What we eat

A food box

What is it like living in such harsh conditions and does dehydrated food taste any different to fresh food?

We are very well equipped to survive in such a harsh environment although we are restricted in what we can do in particularly bad weather and during the long period of darkness (three months of the year). We all have our own issue of insulated and wind-proof clothing for various different weather conditions that enable us to travel and work outside in comfort. Still when we have heavy winds, known down here as a "blow", outside activities can be difficult and everyone has to be completely covered from head to toe when travelling only a small distance from one building to another. To get some idea imagine that you are in a gale and then add the fact that you cannot see further than your extended arm for all the snow blowing around you. People could easily get lost and disorientated in this weather so rope hand lines are run from one building to the next to help in this most extreme weather.

In contrast when the weather is calm it can be very pleasant outside and seem quite warm once you've been here for a few months and acclimatized to the cold. The weather always has the potential to change quite suddenly though, and we have to consider this before planning anything outside.

Indoors is a different story as all buildings here, and on other bases, are well insulated and warm. It may be around - 40 degrees Centigrade outside but we could easily be wearing shorts and T-shirt indoors! We do have to make all our own water though which involves shovelling snow into a tank daily, which melts and is purified before being pumped to our living accommodation. We do this in groups of four for one week each month.

Dehydrated food is a lot different from fresh food although more in texture than taste. We start the winter with quite a large stock of fresh vegetables and dairy produce that is rationed out accordingly, so that with any luck it will last at least until midwinter. This year we were very lucky and we still have fresh eggs almost seven months into winter. We do have some dried vegetables and egg that we use throughout winter. I think it is a lot down to personal taste what dehydrated food you like and dislike. I personally think the onions, peas and cabbage are the closest to the fresh variety but I'm sure other people would disagree. Some of the other dried veg can be a little less appetizing and taste a little musty.

However we do get a good selection of frozen vegetables, and egg that is almost as good as the real thing. We also get lots of tinned vegetables which is also very good but can get a little mushy if its been stored outside and frozen. After a few months of eating dried and tinned vegetables I think we will appreciate the fresh variety all the more when it does return!

Living in such a harsh environment can very hard work (both mentally and physically), particularly when you are off base. Life becomes much more basic and primitive with your main priorities being food, warmth and shelter. We often take these things for granted in our normal daily existence.

Dehydrated food doesn't taste so bad if it is well rehydrated. Just about anything tastes good when you are really hungry.