Letter Re: Canned Food Alternatives

Dear Survival Blog,

There’s a food storage learning curve. It’s is a long journey; my 65 years of life and 40 years of survival learning and self evaluation on products and locations has been very interesting and beneficial. Having submitted a few articles in the past on this wonderful site, I’m going to respond to food preps and storage. This is a brief account, as this is in my humble estimation is the most crucial part of all the survival categories.

HJL is right on target with the canned food viewpoint in our current world situation, However the viewpoint will drastically change in a post whatever happens scenario. Remember the movie “The Road”, where the two survivors find an old, hidden bunker with canned goods in it, after the do do hits the fan; the last thing you will be worried about is salt or sugar content, rather you will be praying for it. Your prepping mindset needs to be where you will be in a post period, real world, “you are not in Kansas any more” situation. Maybe we all should prep during a one-week forced food deprivation; trust me, you will have a clear vision of your priorities versus what you think they might be while having a full stomach and a open grocery store.

My learning curve follows similar what past guest articles have discussed. So, how is mine different? I have tried stocking with an assortment of what I eat on a daily basis when in my 20/30s, but after a time period it was quite apparent that this method would not last or keep 30 days at best. The next stage in the learning was combining big box items with MRE’s that were coming into a new era, but adequate storage meant becoming aware of how heat, cold, and humidity degraded certains items. I have eliminated MREs from my survival preps due to the inability to know both date from manufacturer and their susceptibility to cold and more so heat. I have also encountered people who switch old MREs to newer dated boxes. I plain don’t trust them. Having traveled the road alongside the advent and development of high quality offered by freeze-dried foods, they are in my perspective the current king of survival meals in both taste, selection, and best of all their long shelf life, if you provide an amount of awareness to the storage area. The other advantage is since they are freeze dried, cold is not a major concern; whereas it can be a concern with canned and MREs.

My journey continues and is revised as any new practices are adopted. I built a climate-controlled, insulated food storage room with its own access door approx 8′ x 20′ in my separate garage workshop area. I live in Nevada where humidity is low, so it’s not a factor. I installed a window air conditioner just for the room in order to maintain a high temperature of not more then 75 degrees and also added a small 800-watt electric heater to keep the temps above 40 degrees with an inside-outside thermometer to ensure accuracy. The size of the room minimizes any cost to maintain the constant temp; I simply set it and forget it.

My journey has been refined to my current awareness for TWO basic types of food storage:

First is the current day through 12-months supply rotating usage, which includes freezer, canned, what I call dry foods (pasta, rice, beans etc), and another often overlooked group–condiments– which includes pickles, ketchup, taco sauce, mustard, olives, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and the list goes on, with a required awareness to heat/cold/humidity. This needs to be a realistic, actual quantity of those foods for each person times the number in that prep group. To give you an idea, I use USPS 12x12x6 inch boxes for rotating my canned goods. They stack 10 high and are easily moved. My current one-year realistic supply for myself is 60 boxes. I note what I do not consume when the product hits the expiration date. I still use, and taste determines whether I use it or not. I have also recently noticed that the major food and big box stores have many items on the shelf that have reached or passed their expiration dates; it seems they are into food or credit shortages themselves. It’s time to fish or cut bait folks.

Second is freeze-dried items in a supply of a minimum of one year and preferably two years per person. I have tried most of the manufactures available. My favorite by far is the Mountain House brand because they simply have the best selection, best taste, and the quality control is top notch. (No, I do not work for them; I just enjoy good food.) With a projected life span around 20 to 30 years, it is a winner for me. Currently, I have two thousand assorted freeze-dried single meals. That gives me a few year’s supply (which will allow for some barter situations, if needed). It has taken a few years to get to my current level of preps, and the warm fuzzy you get from having a food insurance program is substantial. Make sure you try each selection so you can procure greater quantities of those that you prefer. I have watched the pricing double, if not triple, in the last few years, so buy as much as you can as fast as you can.

My final thought is that for the cost of buying prepackaged, freeze-dried food and the selection versus buying a freeze-dryer unit and supporting supplies for myself, I have to go with the buying the prepackaged freeze-dried foods. I hope this article will serve to help those of us who are on a similar mindset and path to self provisioning. “We are what we eat” is a great saying for today, but in the future a better one may be “There are the haves and have nots”. Trying to help someone with a gift of food during those times will be a reward in itself, because you had the forethought to prep. Happy Trails – JM