October 2, 2012

A Little Tidbit About Switzerland

The first Wednesday of every February, Switzerland tests the air-raid siren. Actually air raids are probably a thing of the past but it's still useful to warn the masses of nuclear fall-out or a 70% off sale at Coop. Because this info was not available on a tourist pamphlet the first time we discovered the siren we were lying in our hotel room scare shitless and didn't know what to do.

Switzerland, despite maintaining neutrality during the Second World War, is slightly paranoid. Conscription still occurs in this country (men only) and billions of Swiss francs are spent every year on defense. There are secret hospitals, bunkers and jet fighters hidden in the mountains and by law, a bomb shelter must be built into every basement of every residential building. Most of us just use this extra space for storage. So what does this have to do with six cans of chili, five cans of pineapple and four cans of tuna?

Well, Switzerland also requires that everyone have at least three weeks stash of food in case of an emergency (we also have surgical masks and latex gloves). This means that every year, when the food and juice expires, we're eating one month's worth of crappy food. Unleavened bread and mineral water with minerals floating in it. We thought of donating to a food bank but as it's expired food, I'm pretty sure they won't take it. Because it costs at least a $100 to buy we don't want to throw it out. I can't look at ravioli the same way again. We're probably over doing it. We're probably the only ones doing it. They're not big fans of foreigners here so we'd prefer to comply with the law.

Interestingly enough, what you don't see is the stash of chocolate and cookies. These treats don't seem to have any problem finding their way off the shelves. I also don't find it terribly inconvenient to buy but I probably don't need to too. The Swiss are proud of their chocolate. I'm sure there's a secret stash of that somewhere too. 

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