Survivors Notebook #3

Food Needs a CDDSP

Food and water for emergency preparedness will need a Cool, Dry, Dark, Secure Place for long term storage. Once you
find a suitable place, plug all the holes and cracks to keep out insects and rodents.  Make sure the floor can handle the
weight; water, canned and bulk food can be heavy, so a ground floor or basement is best.  Avoid extremes of
temperature and humidity which can shorten shelf life and damage many items. Store items off the floor a couple of
inches if possible.

Be practical about what you store, no junk food, nothing with a short shelf life, nothing that isn’t nourishing food. You
should have some ‘comfort food’ to keep morale up, but don’t store Doritos and Ding Dongs. A variety of foods is the
best way to go, the same food over and over kills the appetite and lowers morale at a time when you need a lift the most.
Fresh food from the refrigerator and freezer should be consumed first; if the power is out, of course it won’t last long.
Then you can turn to your long term storage foods.

MREs or ‘Meals Ready to Eat’ is an ideal long term storage food.  MREs are currently in use by our Armed Forces
deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve eaten a couple of them and they are not too bad, a little bland, but fairly
nutritious. They come in a tough plastic bag with an inner liner of aluminum foil and polyethylene. I do think that after
several days of eating them it would get pretty tiring. There is variety of meals available and that would help make them
palatable.  If kept in a good storage environment they will last at least 5 years and probably longer. Higher temperatures
decrease shelf life considerably.

Drawbacks of the MRE are the relatively high sodium content. People who are on a restricted sodium diet will not want
MREs. There have been complaints of MREs causing constipation due to a low moisture and fiber content. Drink plenty
of water with the meal to offset this problem. Another drawback is the relatively high cost per meal at about $4. Despite
the drawbacks, I think the MRE’s storability and nutrition value make them a good choice for a significant portion of your
emergency food supply.

A caution when buying MREs is to take note of the date of manufacture, don’t buy MREs that have been sitting in
storage for months, buy fresh ones. Buy from a known manufacturer such as Sopakco, MRE-Star or AmeriQual or their
distributor. If you are able to get the official military version that is good, but make sure it is not just a bunch of parts
thrown together from the original MRE packets. I’m quite sure some of the items are highly prized while others are
unwanted and therefore made available for resale.

Canned goods are also an ideal item for long term storage of food. They will last for years on the shelf, although they
will be somewhat degraded in flavor and nutrition after several months. Develop a system of rotating canned goods,
using the older cans and storing newly bought cans behind the older ones. You can buy storage racks that make this
process very easy.  Get a wide variety of meats, vegetables, fruits, soups, and don’t forget the nuts.  Also don’t forget to
have a couple of good non-electrical can openers on hand. Bulk food is available in larger cans at a lower cost, but if
you can’t refrigerate leftovers then there will be waste.

There are freeze dried and dehydrated survival food products available which have a very long shelf life and would offer
a good choice along with MREs and canned foods. Some of these sound quite delicious although I have yet to try them.
Keep in mind that they will require water, sometimes hot water. Dry packed grains and legumes will last a very long time
and contain a lot of nutrition. Other items to store include iodized salt, cooking oil, shortening, sugar, honey, coffee,
cocoa, tea, instant oat meal, instant pudding, powdered milk, herbs and spices, ground pepper, and the list goes on.  I
highly recommend a good supply of potent vitamin mineral supplements to help make up for the lack of fresh fruits and
vegetables.

You know better than I do what you will need, the point of this article is to get you to think about having more easily
storable food on hand in case of disaster or shortages. You will no doubt be unable to go to the store once disaster
strikes, the store will be closed and the shelves will be empty from panic buying or looting. Where I live the shelves get
emptied quickly of bread and milk for a forecast of even moderate snow, how much worse for an impending disaster. But
disaster often comes without warning and if you have your water and food already stored, you will have much less to
contend with.

© 2007 Tim Thomas   all rights reserved.
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Survivor's Notebook#2 water, A Precious Commodity