Last week, I shared with you the essential top 10 survival foods. With this list under your belt you’ll be able to cope with most disasters that may find their way towards you. I strongly advise you to read that article in case you’ve missed it. Click here to get started on it.
Knowing what to store is only half of the issue. The other half is how to store your food supply.
Most don’t really give it much thought and end up losing their food stash lifeline. Picking an improper location to store your food may prove catastrophic to your survival chances in case of a disaster.
Just stacking up food in the pantry isn’t enough. There are several key factors you need to take into consideration when you pick where and how you store your food. Today we will see what those issues are and what to do about them.
You will see that all of these problems are interrelated and if you don’t protect against one, you’ll be facing all of them in short order.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the 6 biggest issues you’ll be facing when storing food.
If you want to store food for long term disasters, you need to keep it at a constant cool temperature, somewhere between 40-70ºF. Any higher and the food will go bad ( actually some will start “cooking” in their own containers), any lower and it could freeze and loose color, nutrition values, texture and taste. Buy a room thermometer to assess the temperature in your current storage area. If it doesn’t fall into that interval, you need to find a better location. Keep in mind that for every 18ºF increase in temperature, the shelf life of any food is cut in half.
Another thing to pay attention to is the consistency of the temperature. Don’t pick a location where temperature varies a great deal, even if it’s within the 40-70ºF interval. Such large variations cause food decay.
Usually basements are a great idea for storing food, but you’ll need to take the rest of the issues mentioned in this article into consideration as well. One more thing to take into account is not to be dependent on electrical devices to provide cooling to the stash area. Some disasters will render the electrical grid useless, so make sure that the place you choose has a natural temperature within 40-70ºF.
Most commonly moisture refers the amount of water or other liquids in the air. When choosing the location for your foods stash, take note of any elements that could potentially generate moisture, such as a leaking pipe. This is why I said to pay attention if you choose the basement.
Before you store your food there, make sure that all of your pipes are in top shape and preferably isolated.
Moisture is one of the biggest spoilers of food supplies. If your food becomes moist or damp, it provides the perfect environment for molds and bacteria to grow. If the containers or packaging that you stored your food in aren’t good, moisture can deteriorate them and make the food vulnerable to other problems (the packaging deterioration provides easy access for pests ).
A good rule of thumb is to have a 15% or less humidity level in your food supply area. To assess the humidity of your food use a digital moister meter.
The key to prevent moisture from destroying your stash (besides fixing any issues that may cause it) is proper packaging. Place your food in Mylar bags, food grade buckets with or without gamma seals, vacuum seal bags (such as the FoodSaver), mason or canning jars and more.
Remember that each package option, directly influences the amount of light your food gets exposed to, which bring us to …
You might not be giving this much thought, but light causes food to go bad. We all know that it’s best to avoid storing food in direct sunlight, but even artificial light may have a negative impact
For those who wonder: but how can light effect my food supply? Here’s an easy explanation: light is energy and when light comes in contact with your food, it transfers some of its energy to the food. This transfer causes a chemical reaction in the food. Light can wreak havoc on any food, but it’s especially problematic to proteins and the fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D and E.
Almost every food you might store goes bad in the presence of oxygen (uncooked rice, beans and grains aren’t affected that much). Bacteria and microorganisms (larvae and bugs) thrive in an oxygen-rich environment.
To make sure that your food doesn’t go rancid and looses flavor, use of thus creating an environment where bacteria and other microorganisms cannot develop.
If temperature, light, moisture or oxygen don’t destroy your hard earned food supply, pests will.
Anything from bugs to rodents need to be eliminated if you wish to have an intact food supply. Keep in mind that moisture, for instance creates the perfect breeding ground for bugs and larvae.
You’ll need to check and see what pests are particular to your location, but rats and bugs are everywhere, so everyone should take measures to ensure that they don’t go anywhere near the food stash.
Physical barriers such as walls, fences, doors are a good addition, alongside different bug and rat traps. Another thing to do is to place ultrasonic pest repellers around your food supply.
This is the final nemesis of food storage. Over time food will begin to lose its taste, appearance and nutritional values. That’s why I recommended rotating your stash. Keep an inventory of what you have and when it expires. If the deadline approaches, eat that food and replenish your stock. There’s no point in throwing away food or keeping food past its expiration date.
Also, I strongly recommend that you organize your food by expiration date, with the closes date in the front.
Taking preventive measures to ensure that your food lifeline isn’t in jeopardy is crucial for your survival.
With this overview you’ll be able to better assess your current conditions and take the necessary steps in order to protect your food stash. In further articles we’re going to dive in even deeper, and take a look at different ways of storing food.
Now that you know what the biggest enemies of your food supply are, it’s time to go check and see if any of them have creeped up on you.
What other enemies of food supplies you know of? Share your thought in the comment section below.