Total Survivalist Blog: food storage

Introduction

Emergencies
Are Real

With all the modern conveniences we
enjoy, it’s easy to forget how dependent we are on these
technological advancements. Most of us have free-flowing water at our
fingertips, electrical power that feeds directly into our homes and
24-hour grocery stores filled with endless supplies of fresh food.
This is a luxury; without warning one disaster could delay or destroy
our entire food supply.

World news tells us how fragile this
dependence is. The world has natural disasters that are occurring
with increasing frequency and severity; continuous political unrest
rages in countries across the globe; economies are failing all around
us. We are constantly reminded that our fragile system is not
guaranteed from failure. This system is similar to an elaborate
structure made out of dominoes: the shifting of one piece can cause
the whole thing to come crashing down.

As the world becomes increasingly less
stable, more and more people are choosing to become educated on
emergency preparedness. Like those of us at Legacy, people are
learning that in an emergency situation or other devastating life
event (job loss, severe illness or unanticipated disability), we
cannot always rely on government or other people to step in and
provide for the needs of our families. Should incident occur the only
way to assure ourselves that our loved ones will be taken care of is
to get prepared on our own.

If we want to take care of our
families’ needs in a crisis, having a sufficient store of emergency
food is the crucial first step. Food storage options seem endless.
Anyone who wants to start a food storage plan may feel overwhelmed by
the large amount of conflicting and confusing information on the web
regarding what to store, how much you need and how to store it.

In this guide

Legacy Foods

outlines
some basic information to help you make the best choices as you build
your family’s emergency food storage supply. We will specifically
discuss the benefits and disadvantages of different types of food
storage, common questions about how much food to store, the
importance of storing healthy and tasty food and how best to store
what you have. When planning your food storage you have many
considerations to make; this guide will help you get started.

Chapter
1

Food
Storage Types Compared

With many food storage options, it’s
easy to get overwhelmed. When planning your food storage there are
many questions to answer: Are cans better? Should I have bulk foods?
Are MREs really a feasible food storage option? What’s all the hype
about freeze-dried foods? How do I know which is right for my family?

As you navigate your options many
factors will weigh in your decision. This includes: nutritional
content; ease of storage and transport; cost; shelf life; taste; ease
of preparation. All types of storage food have benefits and you
should have some of each in your supply. Below is a summary of the
different types of food storage options and their relative benefits
and drawbacks.

Pantry/Canned Foods

Pantry foods are probably the most
familiar type of food storage. Cans are a simple and easy way to
start storing food because you can find a wide variety in any grocery
store. This group also includes boxed items and other packaged foods.
Filling your pantry with foods that you eat every day makes great
short-term food storage because these foods are convenient to use and
easy to prepare. Weekly sales are a great way to quickly build up
your food supply fairly inexpensively. One added benefit of cans is
that they do not require cooking and can be eaten cold if needed.
These foods are ready to eat with minimal-to-no preparation.
Wet-packed cans contain water or juice with the contents of the can
making them beneficial if water supplies are low during an emergency
situation.

Pantry goods typically have expiration
dates from one to five years so they need to be rotated more
frequently than other types of food storage. Many pantry foods are
not packaged for long-term storage and are more susceptible to bugs
and rodents. These are foods that you should eat and rotate on a
regular basis; simply put the newer food behind what is already on
your pantry shelf. Make sure to check for dents in cans and only buy
non-damaged items so the food is not compromised. Make sure to have
at least one manual can opener in case of a power outage; it would be
a challenge to open canned food without one.

Cans are not a great portable option
because they are heavy and bulky, making them difficult to store and
pack. Boxed items are lighter but typically require other ingredients
to prepare. When buying canned foods make sure to get the appropriate
size. Large #10 cans are a common food storage option and seem to be
a great value for your money; however, they can be a bad idea because
once opened you have to consume the contents within a short amount of
time or it will spoil. Choose your #10 cans wisely our you could be
eating the same food item for several meals in a row, finding a way
to store leftovers or dealing with spoilage. In summary, pantry foods
are the first you will use in an emergency because of the easy
preparation and limited shelf life.

Bulk Foods

Bulk foods are another conventional way
to store food. When properly stored these dried items have a long
shelf life; some will virtually last forever. Typical bulk foods are
wheat, powdered milk, corn meal, dried potatoes, dry beans, corn,
pasta, and white rice. Many people like bulk foods because it can be
a do-it-yourself method of storage. Other items available in bulk
include vegetable oils, baking powder, coffee, tea, cocoa, salt,
sugar, honey, bouillon and vinegar.

Storing bulk foods is not an ideal food
storage option because it takes more preparation and creative cooking
to produce a variety of meals. On the other hand, bulk foods are a
fantastic way to stretch out any meal and will allow you to make
things from scratch. Adding rice, pasta or beans to a meal can bulk
up the meal and stretch your food dollar. With wheat, yeast and salt
you can make a loaf of bread. The downside to bulk food is that you
will need to have an alternative cooking should you lose power or
gas. You won’t be able to make much from these food items without
the ability to cook, bake, boil or simmer.

Bulk foods can be difficult to store
because they come in large, heavy packages or containers, some of
which might need to be repackaged for long shelf life. This is not
the type of food you want to carry with you if you need to evacuate
your home. The biggest disadvantage of bulk food storage is that you
will need to cook mostly from scratch. Keep in mind that though bulk
foods may provide more food per pound, they also require longer
planning and preparation in order to have a wide variety of meals.

A significant drawback to having only
bulk foods in your food storage is that you are unable to make a
quick meal. During the immediate aftermath of a disaster you won’t
have time to stop and cook for 3 hours; you will be focusing on other
things and will need something you can quickly eat with little
preparation.

MREs

Meals, Ready-To-Eat (MREs) are military
rations. The name says it all; these full-course meals have
everything in one package: entree, side dish, dessert, drink and
condiments; these often include a small heating device. MREs do not
require water and are the most convenient food storage option. Some
people like the taste but others do not. This is what our military
uses because of their high calorie content and because they are shelf
stable. MREs also include a spoon, toilet paper, wet nap and salt
with every meal. Because of the high calories they are an excellent
choice for a bug out or evacuation situation.

Though they can be on the heavy side,
MREs are a good option because they are very portable. They are the
perfect food to put in your evacuation bag. MREs a great short-term,
zero-preparation food to live on until you are able to get to a more
secure location. The shelf life of MREs can be 5 to 10 years if
stored well; after that, palatability can be affected. The greatest
disadvantage of MREs is that they are very expensive and have a
limited variety. They are best reserved for short timeframes.

Dehydrated or
Freeze-dried /Long-Term Storage 10-25+ Shelf Life

Another

emergency food

option is
freeze-dried and/or dehydrated foods. This type of food storage is
convenient because it is delivered already packaged for long-term
storage. Some foods are better preserved using the freeze-drying
process; others are better dehydrated. Some companies may stick to
one method while others use a combination of both in their
prepackaged food storage options.

Dehydration is a long-standing
method of preserving food. During this process foods are put through
a low temperature chamber where up to 98% of the moisture is taken
out and then the food is packaged. This dehydration process reduces
both the size and weight of the food while maintaining flavor. Tests
have shown that texture and color can be affected with this process.
Some experts believe that nutrients are reduced during the
dehydration process but others do not agree.

Dehydrated foods are lightweight and
can be ideal for quick mobility in the event of an evacuation. These
foods are typically not full meals but are the foods you use to make
meals such as: fruits, vegetables, jerky, eggs, pancake mix, butter,
tomato and cheese powder.

Dehydrating can be done at home but can
be very time-consuming; storage life will be shorter without the
right packaging. Dehydrating food at home can be a cost-effective way
of adding to your food storage if you incorporate these foods into
your everyday cooking. Professionally dehydrated foods are properly
packaged and can store for a much longer time.

Freeze drying is a process of
preserving food that requires high-end equipment that flash freezes
fresh or cooked food. The food is then put in a vacuum chamber
that
remains as cold as -50° F. Minimal
heat is applied and the ice evaporates without ever going back into
the liquid phase. This removes almost all of the moisture from the
food. Freeze dried foods make for better tasting meals because the
process preserves the color, flavor, shape and texture of the
original food. Because water has been removed it weighs less, making
it a great portable option. One downside is the slightly higher cost
than dehydrated food. Another is that since it retains the shape of
the food it is also slightly bulkier to store.

Both dehydrated and freeze-dried meals
have many advantages over other food storage options. Overall they
are easier to store, are light-weight, take up little space and do
not require refrigeration. They do require water for reconstitution
so you will need to increase your water storage accordingly. These
foods are properly packaged for long-term storage and easier
mobility. These foods save you time because they are quick and easy
to prepare. They are also nutritious and great tasting.

The main disadvantage of these types of
foods is the cost. Due to the intense processes these foods undergo
as well as being pre-packaged for long-term storage, the cost is
higher.

SUMMARY: Study these options and
decide which types can fit into your plan. Each level of food storage
has advantages and disadvantages. Because of this many people choose
to have a combination of the food storage types for the most
comprehensive plan. Consider all the factors and store what is right
for your family.

Chapter
2

How
Much Food to Store

When starting their food storage people
commonly ask: How much food do I need? There are a few considerations
to make when deciding on quantity. Each food storage type has its own
characteristics so included below are some things to keep in mind
when determining how much to store.

Pantry/Canned Foods:

If you decide to include pantry/canned
foods such as the grocery items that you consume regularly,
calculating this can be fairly simple. First figure out how much you
and your family go through in a typical week. Take that number and
multiply it by the amount of time you would like to have food on hand
and strive to obtain that amount. Thirty days is a good initial goal.

Taking advantage of grocery store sales
is a great way to quickly build up this portion of your food storage.
Remember: eat what you store and store what you eat. This means don’t
buy foods that you don’t normally eat just because you see them on
sale. By purchasing and preparing the foods you normally eat,
rotating out the oldest items in your pantry first and then replacing
these items regularly you ensure that this portion of your food
storage is always fully stocked and up-to-date.

Bulk Items:

When it comes to bulk foods, remember
that these storage items are excellent for extending meals that you
make with your other storage foods or making meals from scratch.
Adding rice, pasta or beans to any meal will stretch your food dollar
regardless if the meal is canned, freeze-dried or a long-term storage
food, Bulk foods are also great for having everyday essentials on
hand such as salt, sugar and flour. For example, you will want to
store sugar if you are used adding it to your daily coffee.

When determining how much to purchase
consider your family’s typical serving sizes and then buy the items
based on how many times a week you plan on needing them. Having a
surplus will never an issue because bulk foods can last a very long
time if properly stored. Note that when purchasing bulk food items
you may need to repackage them in order to extend their shelf life
sufficiently for your needs.

MREs

If you plan to include MREs as part of
your food storage, keep in mind their limited variety and high cost;
they are best suited for short-term emergencies. MREs don’t require
any cooking so put them in your go bags or evacuation packs. A case
of MREs contains 12 meals. Each MRE contains 800-1200 calories so you
only need about two per day. A smart goal would be to have one case
of MREs per person; this will provide approximately 1 week of meals
for each family member.

Dehydrated and Freeze
Dried Foods

Dehydrated and freeze-dried meals are
much lighter and can come in small packages for portability. These,
too, could double as a bug out supply with the understanding that
extra water would be needed for reconstitution.

While you can get individual food items
that are either dehydrated or freeze dried, one advantage of these
foods is that you can buy prepackaged meals and then all that you
would need to make a tasty meal is hot water. These complete meals
may not be as convenient to eat as MREs but they provide a much
greater variety of meals from which to choose.

Unlike pantry food and MREs,
calculating how much freeze-dried and/or dehydrated food you will
need is not easy so we will guide you through it.

How much Long-Term Food is Enough?

When deciding how much freeze-dried and
dehydrated foods to add to your emergency supply, the most important
rule to remember is to go by calories not by serving size. Emergency
food companies have different definitions for what constitutes a
serving and emergency food kits are not one-size-fits-all even though
they may be advertised that way. The first step is to figure out how
many calories you and your family consume on a daily basis. Next
multiply that by the number of days for which you want to be
prepared. This becomes the minimum number of calories that you need
to have in your food storage program.

Once you know how many calories your
family requires you can figure out how much dehydrated and
freeze-dried meals you need. Keep in mind that your daily caloric
requirement changes based on what activities you are doing. For
example, a hard work day cutting down trees and moving storm debris
will require more calories than sitting around playing cards while
waiting for a storm to pass. Its best to assume you will need more
calories than less. In general teenage and adult males need 2800
calories per day, teenage and adult females require 2200 and children
13 and under use 1400. Infants require special food so plan and
purchase food accordingly.

Once you have the total daily calories
needed decide how many months’ worth of food you want. This is
influenced by your personal comfort level. The longer period of time
you can supply for the better but most people can’t afford to go
out and buy a year’s worth of food without some prior planning and
budgeting. The best recommendation is to start where you can. First
build up a 2-week supply and then move to 30 days’ worth. Once you
have that, work up to three months, then six and then a year. Build
up your food storage supply as big as you need in order to feel safe
and to be able to provide for your family in any disaster situation.

Watch out For Serving Size

Remember when choosing an emergency
food supplier to look at the total calories in what they call a
serving. Similar with our everyday food, a single serving is not
enough calories to be considered a complete meal. Instead consider
the total number of calories in the package. Going by our figures
above an adult male needs about 2800 calories a day or 933 calories
per meal.

Many people make the incorrect
assumption that a serving size should contain enough calories for a
complete meal. In truth, there are no standards for serving sizes;
they are only suggested portions by the manufacturer.

Serving sizes are recommendations that
also assume that you will also be eating other foods. Focus on the
amount of calories in the whole package instead of the number of
servings per package. Don’t expect an entrée meal to complete your
calorie intake. Look into having snacks, drinks, fruits, vegetables,
rice and other food items to help increase your daily calories.
Having a variety of foods to eat creates normalcy in an emergency
situation.

SUMMARY: Deciding which food
storage option you need and how much to secure can be overwhelming.
We have included a worksheet at the end of this document to help you
develop the best food storage plan for you and your family. We will
help you ask the right questions, provide you with answers and help
you make the best choice.

Chapter
3

What
To Store…Ingredients Matter

One common misconception about
emergency preparedness is that food storage quality doesn’t matter
as long as you have some food stored that will last for a long time
without spoiling. Having something stored is better than nothing but
it is also crucial to fill your body with nourishing ingredients
during an emergency. This will keep you satisfied and in top form.
Eating lesser-quality foods can leave you susceptible to sickness and
diminish your mental and physical health. You are storing food to
protect your family against starvation but you also want to protect
them from sickness and diseases caused by harmful ingredients. Do
this by knowing what goes into the food that you buy.

Long-term emergency food storage is
made to last a long time. Some companies in the industry cut corners
and add a variety of artificial preservatives, dyes and flavors in
order to lengthen the shelf life of their foods. If you are
committing to protect your family be sure to make the best,
healthiest choices possible. When selecting your food storage beware
of artificial ingredients. Here are other red flags to consider as
you look around.

Avoid Hydrolyzed Yeast Extract and Similar Flavorings

Hydrolyzed yeast extract is a
controversial ingredient found in many packaged foods and is common
in food storage items. It is primarily used as a flavor-enhancer and
is created by breaking down yeast cells. The FDA classifies yeast
extract as a natural ingredient but according to many health experts,
yeast extract is a cheaper alternative to monosodium glutamate (MSG)
and actually does contain some MSG.(1) Some health and
consumer advocates say that labeling something as containing yeast
extract is the way food companies avoid saying that a product
contains MSG.(2)

MSG has many negative side effects.
Consumption of MSG has been linked to a variety of scary conditions
including headaches, numbness in the face and neck, heart
palpitations, chest pain, nausea, weakness, appetite control problems
and other negative symptoms.(1) Whether or not you have
had a sensitivity to MSG in the past, it is best to avoid this
ingredient in your storage food altogether.

For a good list of other additives that
are linked to MSG check out the following articles:

http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html

http://www.theindigoearth.com/articles/2008/07/30/my_first_article

Consider GMO-Free Foods

When looking for emergency food it is
equally important that the ingredients are free from genetically
modified organisms or labeled GMO-free. The use of genetically
modified foods is another controversial topic in the world of food
and nutrition. It is best to avoid GMOs while the debate is still
going on, particularly if this is a long-term purchase.

Genetically modified organisms are
created by taking the genetic material of one organism and inserting
it into the genetic code of another. This bold practice is becoming
more and more widespread despite being widely acknowledged as a risky
and understudied process. Many experts opposed to genetically
modified foods argue that there has not been adequate testing on
human subjects. Despite the increasing insertion of GMO ingredients
into mainstream foods there are still too many unknowns about the
health effects these human-engineered foods could have. Some health
groups like the Center for Food Safety have gone so far as to claim
that genetically modified foods can increase the likelihood of
antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and even cancer.(3)
Why put your family at risk with untested ingredients when you will
have other worries to contend with in a survival situation?

Because the use of GMOs in manufactured
foods is becoming such a widespread practice, very few emergency
foods are free of GMO ingredients. However, there are a few companies
that produce foods that are GMO-free. If this is an issue that is
important to you, be certain that the emergency food is certified
GMO-free. Some companies may claim to be free of genetically modified
ingredients but without the certification have no proof.

Other Health Considerations

Other health considerations include
checking amounts of cholesterol, trans fat and sodium in the food
storage. Packaged foods often have high amounts of these three things
and emergency foods are no exception. High-quality emergency food
brands limit cholesterol, trans fat, and sodium amounts but you need
to read the labels to be sure.

Make Sure Your Food Storage Ingredients Will Stand
The Test Of Time

Emergency food should be able to last
and still be healthful. As you look for the right emergency food be
aware that some food storage companies haven’t done their research
on ingredients that spoil versus those that keep. As a result they
incorporate ingredients into their emergency food that go bad after a
relatively short period of time. Canola oil, for example, will only
last a year before it goes rancid, thus spoiling whatever food
storage in which it is used. Novice food companies use canola oil in
their granola to make the clusters stick together and uneducated food
buyers end up with a worthless product after just a year.

Bottom line: it’s important to know
what goes into your storage food. Take the time to do some research
on the food you are buying; be sure it will contribute to the health
and well-being of you and your family in a disaster.

Chapter
4

Taste
Matters

You have made your checklist, done the
research and narrowed down your options; now it comes down to taste
and appeal.

Emergency-preparedness gurus often
publish lists of specific items you need to store for an emergency.
One popular guideline suggests something like this: for a year’s
worth of food storage each person needs 350 pounds of grain, 75 lbs
of milk, 65 lbs of sugar, etc. These types of specific food
guidelines can be a helpful starting point but one size does not fit
all. That guideline is useless for people who have food sensitivities
such as gluten or dairy intolerance. Review the first chapter of this
guide and consider what is best for your family.

Regardless if you choose canned, bulk
or long-term storage foods, the most important principal we stress is
to store the food that your family eats the most. Having food
routines that carry over from your life before will make the hard
adjustments easier in a disaster situation. Buying things you don’t
regularly eat just for added variety on the shelf may sound like a
good idea. Unfortunately these will likely be the last foods you
reach for and if not regularly rotated could be expired, possibly
ending up not usable at all.

Do you remember going to dinner at a
friend’s house as a kid? Even if it was a close friend everything
about the dinner seemed foreign to you from the way they folded their
napkins to the saltiness of their gravy. Even the smell of their
cooking was different from the dinnertime smells in your kitchen at
home. Little differences like this mattered and affected your comfort
level. Eating food from different cultures can sometimes put us in
this situation, too. Routines, especially involving food, can be
powerful in an emergency situation. Food affects the way we feel. If
unfamiliar, food can make a scary situation that much worse.

Many food storage suppliers offer
entrée options that are familiar favorites like macaroni and cheese,
enchiladas and various soups. Look around at all available options
and make selections based on what your family eats on a regular
basis.

Store Food that Tastes Good

At first glance taste might not seem
like a very important factor when purchasing emergency food. It’s
easy to justify buying food that you don’t normally eat and telling
yourself, “It will be an emergency. Whether I like the food I’m
eating or not will be the least of my worries.” However, making
sure your food storage is appealing and tastes good to you and your
family is more important than it initially seems. Having food that’s
delicious and comforting, especially in
an emergency situation, will bring peace of mind. Another
good thing about having food storage you like is knowing that your
family will eat it and it won’t go to
waste.

If you
have kids, buying good-tasting food is even more important. Kids are
picky eaters. If it is hard to get your child to eat during a regular
night at the dinner table, think of the desperation you will feel
trying to get your child to eat in an emergency situation. This is
not just about preferences, either. In emergency situations kids have
a particularly hard time forcing themselves to eat, especially if the
food is unfamiliar. On the other hand, if the food is something your
child loves, it will really help.

Food that is familiar and tastes good
has the power to make us feel relaxed, comfortable and cared for,
even in stressful situations. Ideally, you would occasionally replace
your regular meal with something from your storage food so that your
family gets used to eating it.

Sample your Options

Since long-term food storage is made by
others it is important to sample before buying. Never make a food
storage purchase without first sampling one product from each of the
companies you have narrowed down. Most food storage companies have
small sample packs of their larger food kits available that are
fairly inexpensive. Test a few and choose the ones that most suit
your family’s tastes. This not only gives you
an idea as to how the food will taste, but you will see what is
involved in the preparation.

When ordering a sample ask the company
if the food they are sending to you is the same as what is in the
larger packages. Sometimes companies send out higher quality food in
their sample packages to trick buyers into thinking that their food
is better than it really is.

Variety is Optimal

When building your food supply, make
sure to include a variety of all types of food storage. No one wants
to be stuck eating canned beans for six months. Eating the same foods
for a long period of time can also leave you deficient in the
vitamins and minerals you normally get from a wider variety of
foods..

Start collecting different entrée
options and then add in “good” calorie side dishes for variety.
You can also expand your food storage assortment by purchasing more
canned goods, bulk items and other supplementing items. A wide food
variety is enjoyable and will also provide options should you develop
an intolerance to a particular food.

Dietary Needs

If you or a family member has special
dietary needs, some food storage companies offer gluten-free,
dairy-free and vegetarian options. You want to store food similar to
what you regularly eat that has already been adapted to your needs.

Plan on Extra Water

When purchasing items for your storage
plan consider your additional water needs. Unlike canned food, bulk
foods need water for recipes and preparation; freeze-dried and
dehydrated food also need water for reconstitution. We take for
granted that every day we have water immediately on hand. Figuring
out how much water you use every day and calculating how much you
need to store for food preparation can become overwhelming. Water
storage takes up a lot of space and is hard to accomplish. Your best
option is to first store what you can. We recommend that you also
invest in a quality water filter and locate an alternate water
source.

Don’t Forget the Treats

The idea of storing a few luxury items
that you are used to having and would not like to do without is
commonly overlooked. These items might be coffee, chocolate or other
specialty foods that are part of your routine. Having luxury items
may seem trivial but a simple treat or comfort snack will be
invaluable in a survival situation. Not only will it be good for
morale, you could use it as a bartering tool should the situation
come to that. Having treats stored for an emergency benefits
everyone.

Pet Considerations

For
people with pets it is a common practice to store several months’
worth of food at a time in case of emergency. Because dry pet food
can go rancid relatively quickly it’s a good idea to continually
rotate through your stock. Canned pet food can last as long as
regular canned foods but is typically pricier than dry pet food.

Dry
pet food is a good option and can be purchased in larger quantities.
This pet food contains fats and oils and will spoil if not stored
correctly. Dry food stored in large plastic, glass or metal bins can
help protect the food against insects but exposure to light,
air, humidity and heat speeds up the rate at which the food
degrades. The fats and oils can stick to the bottom and sides of the
container leaving a film that can become rancid over time. This
further contaminates other bags of food added to it and could lead to
a health risk for your animal.  

It is
best to wash and dry the container thoroughly prior to
adding new food. You could also keep the dry food in
its original packaging when placing it in one of these
containers. Make sure to get the air out of the bag after each use
and seal with a good lid. If these dry foods are unopened or stored
well the shelf life can be up to one year. Always check the “best
buy date” for your particular brand. The recommended “use by”
date for an open package is six weeks. If you repackage this food
into food grade buckets and add oxygen absorbers you may increase
this to up to 2 years, depending on the food. Further measures must
be taken to avoid spoilage for longer storage.

Legacy
Premium is proud to introduce the first healthy, well-balanced dog or
cat food storage with a 10-year shelf life. Our pet food storage is
stored in heavy-duty Mylar pouches complete with oxygen absorbers;
pouches are stored in stackable, waterproof and rodent-proof plastic
buckets that are re-sealable and BPA-free.

Food storage can be a big purchase so
take the time to figure out what foods you and your whole family will
want to eat. An emergency is not the time to try new foods, nor is it
the time to force your family to eat food they do not like. Food
should be a comfort rather than a negative factor adding to the
stress of a bad situation. Hopefully this is food insurance that you
never have to use but if you do, you want it to be good, healthy food
that is enjoyable to eat.

Chapter
5

Make
it Last

Now that you know what you want to
store and how much, you need to plan how you will store it. At the
beginning of this guide we outlined how long you can expect each type
of food storage to last if properly stored. Now learn what you can do
to achieve the maximum shelf life of your storage food.

Battling the Elements

It is important to know the four
enemies that can impact the shelf life of your storage food: oxygen,
temperature, moisture and light. These four threats affect all types
of food storage: cans, bulk, MRE’s and long-term dehydrated and
freeze dried foods.

Oxygen: In order to achieve
optimal and long shelf life, storage foods must have extremely low
oxygen levels. Oxygen destroys shelf life because even small amounts
will allow bacteria to grow and spoil food. Oxygen can also alter the
fats, colors, vitamins and flavors in food storage.

Once a food has been packaged the
residual oxygen level should be well below 2%. If a food storage
company will not disclose the levels of oxygen in their food or if
they simply admit that they do not test for oxygen levels, steer
clear of that food. Food that is not tested for extremely low oxygen
cannot last for the amount of time most companies advertise. This is
another important reason to purchase properly packed foods or repack
it for maximum shelf life.

Temperature: To extend the shelf
life food must be stored at room temperature or below. Higher
temperatures can be damaging to food storage because proteins can
breakdown and vitamins and nutritional elements can be destroyed.
Color, flavor, smell and taste can also be affected. Temperature is
the one element that can have the greatest effect on the overall
quality of your food. Store your food in the coolest environment
available.

Some possible places might be root
cellars, basements and under-the-stairs storage. Other areas include
pantries and closets that are away from heating vents or
refrigerators/freezers. Optimal storage is in a consistently cool and
dry place. Storing your food in a garage, attic or outdoor shed is
not recommended since these places can get very hot.

Moisture: One of the reasons
freeze-dried and dehydrated food is so well-suited for long-term
storage is because most of the water has been removed. Foods that are
stored in a humid environment are likely to spoil from growth of
microorganisms. Low moisture is also important for storing bulk items
such as grains, beans, rice and flour.

Light: Light can deteriorate
vitamins, proteins and fats in food. It can also discolor foods and
affect flavors. Keep your food storage in a low lit area if possible.
For this reason long-term food storage containers are always opaque.

Packaging

Packaging is an important consideration
when choosing your long-term storage food. Here are the most common
packaging options and materials that companies use:

Cans: Canning has been an
efficient way of packaging and storing food for many years. This
airtight, solid container can withstand the slight vacuum that the
oxygen absorber packs may create. Once the container is opened the
preserved food begins to break down due to moisture, oxygen,
temperature, and light. The food may still seem dry but the moisture
content of the air is enough for bacteria to begin to grow. Be
careful when deciding which foods to buy and store in cans. As long
as the can has a good seal this is a good method of packaging food
storage. One downside is that because the can retains its shape, it
is nearly impossible to know if the seal is still good; the only way
to tell is to open the can.

Mylar
bags
: Mylar bags are a polyester film laminated to aluminum foil.
This produces a strong material that creates a barrier from oxygen
and moisture and is highly resistant to puncturing. Essentially
it is a flexible can and an excellent choice for long-term food
storage. Having more manageable portions is a great advantage of
storing food in Mylar bags; this provides less opportunity for
spoilage, insect infestation and waste.

Unfortunately
Mylar can still be punctured. Unlike #10 cans it is easier to
tell when the seal has been broken or compromised; if the seal has
been broken you will see the puncture or the bag will become bloated.
If the bag has a vacuum you’ll know if the seal was compromised
because the bag won’t be tight around the food anymore. These signs
allow for easier inspection of your storage food and eliminate the
chance of discovering your food has gone bad because of a poor seal,
right when you need it most.

Mylar
packages combined with both oxygen absorbers and nitrogen flushing
can virtually eliminate all oxygen and currently provides the best
packaging available today.

Oxygen absorbers: An oxygen
absorber is a small packet of material used to remove the available
oxygen in a container and increases shelf life. The active ingredient
is an iron oxide powder that chemically reacts and removes oxygen
from the surrounding atmosphere. The absorber can prevent food color
change, stop oils in foods from going rancid and prevent the growth
of aerobic microorganisms that need oxygen to thrive.

Nitrogen Flushing: Nitrogen
flushing is one of the newest, most efficient ways to package
long-term storage food. Nitrogen doesn’t react with food like oxygen
does so foods will stay fresher longer. It doesn’t affect the flavor
or texture of the food, either. The nitrogen fills up the bag,
flushing out the air and oxygen. Nitrogen flushing is a safe,
FDA-approved method of packaging food storage.

Carefully choose the type of packaging
you will use to protect your food storage investment. Consider
all the available packaging options for the food you want to store.
Being knowledgeable in these practices and how they are used can help
you make good decisions for your food storage plan.

Additional Storage Tip

Make sure that your food supply is safe
from rodents, insects and other intruders. Keeping it three to six
inches off the ground and away from walls is generally a good way to
avoid these pests. As an additional measure don’t store food
containers directly on concrete floors because the moisture in the
concrete can seep into plastic, corrode metal and dampen paper sacks.
Store your food supply on wooden pallets to avoid this.

Things to Keep in Mind

Being prepared is
simply having an alternate way of doing everyday things should your
daily routine be disrupted. When preparing food storage meals
consider three important things: heat, water and sanitation. 

Heat: How
are you going to cook if there is no electricity or gas? Have several
alternate methods for preparing your food.

Water: Take
into account the foods you have chosen to store. If you are storing
bulk, freeze-dried or dehydrated food, make sure you store extra
water, too.

Sanitation: Consider
storing paper plates and plastic cutlery to conserve water. By
throwing away or burning dishes you keep germs from spreading and
prevent illness.

Conclusion

Get
Prepared Then Rest Easy

You are now be equipped with the
knowledge and tools you need to make the right decision for your food
storage needs. You know the various types of food storage and the
benefits and drawbacks of each. You know what to avoid with food
storage and how to properly store it. You have learned to do your
research and know what you are buying; you can now make informed
choices that will cater to your family’s needs.

Too often the message of emergency
preparedness is doom and gloom. While food storage will certainly
help in large disasters, it can also help in everyday emergencies
such as a decrease of income through job loss, injury or illness.

No matter how you use your food
storage, knowing that you have it will alleviate stress. You will
have peace of mind will because you will be able to feed your family
with the ample supply of emergency food stored in your home. Most
importantly you won’t need to rely on others
to step in and provide for you because you prepared ahead of time.
You can know that you’ve done all you could and that you
will be able to meet your family’s needs no matter the situation.

This Guide has Been Brought to You
by Legacy Foods:

If you choose to include long-term
dehydrated and freeze-dried foods in your plan we hope you will look
closely at Legacy Foods. We are here to help you prepare your family
for emergencies by providing the best prices on freeze-dried food
storage anywhere. We believe that Legacy food is the smartest choice
because we offer the best overall value. We have the lowest cost per
day and a greater variety of gourmet tasting freeze-dried meals than
others in the business.

We partnered with some fantastic
companies to come up with products that meet all the requirements for
great food storage: nutritional but full of delicious flavor;
GMO-free with no artificial flavorings; vegetarian and gluten free
options; top of the line packaging that ensures a 25-year shelf life.

Please visit us at:

References

(1) “Hidden Sources of MSG.” Truth
in Labeling. Truth in Labeling Campaign. 11 Sept. 2012. Web. 8 Nov.
2012.

(2) “Many ‘Healthy’ and
Vegetarian Foods Contain MSG in the Form of Yeast Extract.” Natural
News. N.p. 11 Nov. 2012. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.
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