by Michael Price
Wednesday, August 17th 2011 at 9:44am
In an ideal world, all of us would have a self sufficient full-blown organic farm running itself in our expansive backyard. One step through the back door would bring you right to a garden full of all the perfect produce you might find at your local farmer’s market, as well chickens, sheep, and cows that tend to themselves.
Well, if you happen to be one of the lesser 99.999% of human beings who’s not quite there yet, never fear. Go ahead and polish off the last of your fast-food fries and Diet Coke while you’re reading this, because from an emergency preparedness standpoint, it really is OK that most, if not all of these things are never going to happen. By all means, having your own self sufficient organic mini-farm is a great goal to work towards, and the closer you come the better, but in the mean time there are some great things you can do in a single Saturday morning to protect your family now from any sort of future food crisis. Your first order of business would be to stock your home with some or all of the following foodstuffs that are going to last a really, really long time.
Here are the top 8 longest lasting foods:
1.Salt - OK, so this isn’t a real food per se, but you do need it, especially if you live in a hot climate. As a plus, it tastes good, so if you are ever in a situation where you do need to eat your food storage, you will really want some both for taste and as a preservative to help keep other food from spoiling. Food spoilage is mainly caused by
four things; Microbes, chemicals, impurity introduction, or being eaten. Chemically, salt is very stable, it being a rock of sorts, and it is impervious to microbes, which is why it is used to preserve other foods. So all you need to do to keep salt from going bad is protect it from foreign substances, and things that want to eat it, like people, cows, and horses.
2. Honey - Here we go, A REAL FOOD. Honey is amazing stuff. It is very similar to sugar in that its PH level is not conducive to microbes (so you are safe there) and chemically it is stable. Honey will crystallize after a long time (if it’s sealed we are talking years), but you can easily heat it up to bring it back to its normal consistency again. It is also found in nature, so if you are
wandering around and find a wild beehive, make like Winnie and have at it. You might even want to have a go at bee farming, but if you get stung doing either, it’s your fault, not mine or BearSurvival.com’s.
3. Sugar – the only reason honey beat this out is because you aren’t going to find refined sugar in the wild. Even if you do find sugar beats or sugar cane, it takes a lot of processing to get the refined stuff that is good for preservation. Refined sugar, if kept dry, will keep for just about ever.
4. Vinegar - It’s smelly and bitter, but it does contain vitamins and can be used to make the same old mush taste like brand new mush. Vinegar is highly acidic which keeps the microbes at bay. The high level of acidity does require that it be stored in glass bottles or jars for long-term storage though, but if kept properly, vinegar will stay good almost indefinitely. Some even get better with age, like Balsamic. Pickles anyone?
5. Canned Rice, Wheat, Corn - These are great long-term storage solutions. They have lots of calories, you can use them to make lots of yummy things, and if they are canned and properly stored, can last more than 30 years. This means that you will retire before your food will.
6. Other Canned Dehydrated Foods - In keeping with the theme that microbes and chemicals are really the only things that can hurt canned food, other dehydrated foods are also a great food storage options. Things like
potato flakes, carrots, powdered milk, etc. The lack of moisture keeps microbes and chemical changes at bay for between 20 and 30 years.
7. Canned Non-Dehydrated Foods - These will include Spam and other Spam-like products, canned veggies, fruits, soups, etc. The government has some definite opinions on lifespan of these, but they are going on the assumption that the average American won’t store the food right, that the person canning the food only does their job marginally well, and that the worst possible scenario will happen. So in my opinion, the government is shooting pretty low on their numbers. I am legally obliged to say, that Bearsurvival.com doesn’t recommend keeping your canned food for longer than what the government or the food processor recommends. . . but you likely could, and there is a good
chance the food will still be OK. For meats, we are talking in the range of at least 5 years, which is great. Interestingly enough, higher acidic foods, while they will kill microbes, will start to eat the can, which is the reason they don’t last longer, so keep that in mind.
8. MRE’s – Good old military-esk rations. They are actually surprisingly good, and if they are refrigerated at 60 degrees might last more than 7 years. If you keep them at room temperature (depending on where you live) they can last 4 or more years. Not too shabby.
Honorable Mention – Irradiated food. Now, you can’t really buy irradiated food in the US because of reasons that are beyond the scope of this blog. Anyway, here are some good websites that discuss irradiation of food and its usefulness. As explained above, microbes are one of the main causes of food spoilage, not even boiling kills them all. Irradiation has the capacity to kill a much higher percentage of microbes than boiling does. Those opposed to irradiating food contend that there has not been enough studies on the health effects and nutritional value of irradiated food, and that an increase in irradiation capable factories would also lead to an increase in accidents involving radiation. When/if the science is perfected, this will probably fit squarely as #4.