The Enemies of Food StorageA little preface… I read an article on this subject just recently and cannot remember the source but I believe the author had a bit more info than I remember or already had in my noggin. If you come across it, give it a read.
In a SHTF situation, no one should be surprised when the grocery stores are cleaned out in a day or two and shortly after your amenities such as refrigerators and freezers will cease to be of use without proper planning. That’s why having extensive knowledge of food storage and preparation are vitally important.
For the past few years, I have been expanding my knowledge of preparedness, but now, with the rapid escalation of food prices, I have taken a renewed interest in food and food storage. Food and food storage are two areas in which I am learning the most. What I can tell you is, I had a time in my life where I was out of work for a year. The first six months from a surgery and then 4 days after I was cleared to go back to work, I was in a car accident. Our storage food and supplies put food on our table at a time when I was physically unable to.
What are the six enemies of food storage?
Each of these factors are intertwined in such a way that there is a domino effect with each factor acting upon each other and ultimately ruining your stored items in a cumulative fashion. Here’s how it breaks down.
food should be stored between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the lower the better. For example, the storage life of most food products is cut in half for every increase of 18 degrees .
The second factor when it comes to temperature is consistency. So if you have a location where the temperature is 40 degrees one day and 70 the next, there is going to be some loss in quality and shelf life. Let me put this another way. If you have stored your food in a garage where the temperature fluctuates between summer and winter, the shelf life will be based upon the highest temperature not the lowest.
Oxygen- The presence of oxygen allows bacteria, microorganisms and pests to thrive and survive in your food. In addition, many nutrients oxidize in an oxygen rich environment. Fortunately, the use of oxygen absorbers can suck out the oxygen in your food containers, leaving only product and nitrogen (which is not harmful).
Moisture- The ideal level of humidity for your stored food is 15% or less. The way around the humidity and moisture issue is proper packaging and moisture absorbers. With packaging, there are lots of choices including Mylar bags, food grade buckets with or without gamma seals, vacuum seal bags (such as the FoodSaver), Mason or canning jars and more.
Light- The easiest way to explain how light affects your stored food is to equate light to energy. When the energy of light zaps your food, it transfers some of that energy to the food itself, degrading its nutritional value, taste and appearance, This is especially true when it comes to the fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D and E.
Pests- Pests are another problem. Moisture and humidity provide a breeding ground for bugs and larvae of all types. In some climates (mine) mice are a problem. It is important to be aware of the pests that are particular to your geographical climate and further, that you set a barrier between your food and the critters. In addition to a physical barrier, the use of oxygen absorbers or diatomaceous earth will eliminate the oxygen (air) that most pests need to survive.
Time- The final enemy is time. And while there are many items that have an extended shelf life of 20 or 30 years, unless they are properly packaged and stored, the optimal shelf life will be considerably less. If you really do desire products with a 30 year shelf life, I suggest you look at some of the commercially packaged alternatives at Emergency Essentials, ReadyMade Resources, The Ready Store and others. These days you can even find products packaged for 30 year storage at Wal-mart and Costco. Even unopened these items will still have to fight the temperature enemy. We have a ballpark maximum on our items at home of 10-15 years. Beyond that I just don’t trust it.
This has been an incredibly brief overview of the subject but I feel that it will point you in the right direction. Good luck and keep on preppin’!