Food supplies: ready to go! – Interview with Marion Lauters

© N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

24 May 2016

Leaving on a 2-year expedition with tara implies a precise and complex logistical organization. besides preparing the schooner and loading scientific equipment, fuel and crucial spare parts, the embarkation of food supplies is just as challenging.

Marion Lauters, 32 (with a master’s in Environment & Ecology), and is also one of the three cooks relaying aboard Tara. She is in charge of organizing the various stocks of food supplies before the grand departure for the Pacific Ocean on May 28.

Marion has already participated in several expeditions aboard the schooner, including Tara Arctic in 2006. At the time, the management of food stocks on board had to be virtually invented and Hélène Santener explained to Marion how this was accomplished for the Arctic drift. Thanks to this pioneering experience, she now uses her know-how to find excellent suppliers and high quality products. Some companies share Tara’s environmental commitment and directly support the expedition, such as Léa Nature-Jardin Bio, official supplier of Tara Pacific; BioCoop; Les 7 Épis; Sonett, specialized in ecological cleaning products and the Phare Eckmühl Cannery. A few days away from departure, Marion has filled the schooner’s holds and fridges up to the brim.

A multiplication table

“I begin by making lists. I’m the one who prepared food supplies for the 2006 Arctic drift. We started by estimating an average food consumption per week, then multiplied by the number of weeks. For Tara Pacific, I’ve taken the same approach but included more cereals than in 2006. We now consume starches other than rice, pasta and flour. At sea it’s important to vary the menu.”
“I embark dry products, flour, starches and canned food for 6 months. Frozen products are essentially meat, fish, butter and cheese because they may be hard to find during stopovers and everybody loves French cheese! I also freeze vegetables. At sea, fresh products don’t last long and we prefer not to eat too much meat aboard Tara.”

 

Dans le congélateur placé en cale avant, des produits frais préparés par Marion Lauters, marin-cuisinière, puis congelés.
In the freezer, fresh produce prepared by Marion and frozen © Maéva Bardy

Food supplies for 16 persons stocked in the hold

“One of the challenges is managing to fit everything aboard the schooner. After a single delivery before departure, the products are dispatched here and there, in the cabins, under the bunks, etc. Fresh produce goes in the forward hold. It helps to be fully familiar with the schooner to understand how to best preserve food supplies. The forward hold is a spacious and ventilated space where we can easily check the condition of fresh produce. This is essential during long distance navigation. Freezers are also stored there along with large hermetic plastic drums to store bulk products – flour, sugar, cereals, etc. These are essential in regions such as the Pacific to avoid spoilage of stocks from moisture and insects.”

Little difference with a polar expedition

“I believe we won’t need to eat as much! In the Arctic, for example, we estimated servings of 150 g of pasta per person. In hot climates, that will likely be 80-100 g. The big change is that we will have access to fresh produce on a regular basis. More salads on the menu! During this expedition, daily diving missions will be intense. Even though the water is quite warm (up to 26ºC), the crew still needs hearty meals.

 

Les produits secs (farine, lentilles, sucre, céréales, polenta) sont stockés dans des bidons étanches placés en cale avant.
Dry products stored in sealed drums in forward hold © Maéva Bardy

Fresh produce is not always as fresh as expected

In the Pacific, finding lots of fresh vegetables and fruits is not always as easy as we can imagine. Often, agriculture is little practiced on islands. Many products are imported. They are expensive and often treated. Therefore, we have to buy what’s needed before departure, and then wait until the next important supply in Tahiti. Our stock of dry products should last until then. There, we’ll be able to replenish our supplies until Japan. This should be enough for 5 months. Dominique Limbour, who will replace me in Tahiti will organize another large embarkation of food supplies in Japan, then again in New Zealand.

More concentrated liquid products

“There is a desalinator aboard Tara producing 270 liters of fresh water per hour for drinking. Concentrated fruit juices and milk powder keep well and save space on board. There will also be some wine in Tara’s holds for celebrations. There will be a few and we’ll be in Wallis & Futuna for Christmas.”

A menu full of flavors

“I know the crew members and their tastes very well. I keep this in mind when I make my list. Sailors are only 5 out of 16 people on board. But there will be chocolate! A good stock thanks to Léa Nature. We’ll really appreciate the quality. Especially since it’s not always easy to find some along the way. Egg powder will supplement fresh eggs. I calculated we’ll spend a maximum of 3 weeks at sea on any one leg, so we’ll have plenty for making omelets and cakes!”

Marion range l’avitaillement dans les coffres situés sous les bannettes de chaque cabine
Marion stocks supplies in coffers under the bunks in each cabin © Maéva Bardy

Private reserve

“During this long trip, I’d like to grow a few aromatic plants in the mess room, like a tiny garden. So, we’ll pack some seeds to germinate, such as sunflower or alfalfa, to supplement vegetables that remained too long in the hold and have lost their vitamins.”

Storage capacity, optimization of storage space and conservation, energy use, and a lot more information is important to the cook, Marion Lauters. Not to mention the discovery of culinary traditions of the Pacific that will offer opportunities for renewing our recipes.

Dino Di Meo

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