Advice Given to Family Member re: LTS Foods

NonGMO1A while back I wrote an interested family member a few thoughts on LTS food (Long Term Storage) for himself and his teenaged children. He is a budding prepper who has embraced the self defense side of things quite readily and is now working on foods and income. These last two are where I would love to see him concentrate his efforts.

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Hi,

I’ll start off by saying that your food storage must be made up of foods that your system (and the boys’) can process under stress. This is the MOST overlooked aspect of long term storage foods. People stock up foods based on personally relevant criteria that often does not include digestibility. Ingredients included can be in quantities and from sources not experienced regularly in your contemporary diet. Introducing new foods into a diet without a period of acclimation will result in some unpleasantness. Introducing foods with ingredients foreign to your diet might result in discomfort, swelling from water retention, nervous system hyperactivity from MSG (and any of its “yeast” pseudonyms), inflammation from GMO soy additives and derivatives and appetite starvation due to systemic rejection. Your foods need to be adapted to you, not the other way around.

In short: KNOW YOUR FOODS.    (…and how they interact with your body)

The way to know your foods is to research their ingredients starting with the internet-published nutritional labels. These will list the ingredients, and from there, you can make initial observations as to usability. The second step is to write the manufacturer and ask for information about GMO sourcing, MSG usage and soy products. They will answer you, and since we can assume that electronic information is admissible, it should be accurate. I did this with a few manufacturers and we decided here that we will go with single ingredient storage as opposed to pre-made entrees. This isn’t the only way to store foods, just ours. You mileage will vary.

You said you will be going with smaller packages of LTS foods. This is a good choice as pertaining to waste from under utilization of product from the #10 cans. Know, though, that the longest storage is achieved within those steel cans. Variances in bag and plastics technology has led to loss or degradation over time. You will need to test your stocks to verify viability. Of course, if you regularly use your foods in a rotation program, this is achieved. People tend to forget about LTS foods with advertised lives over 15 years or so, and leave them out of rotation. While this type of storage doesn’t require traditional rotation, keeping them within a rotation scheme does a few things for you:

  • a) It tests the packaging for failures. If you buy large quantities, you may get the stocks from the same production lot. If one package or container fails, others might too. No way to verify without usage.
  • b) It forces you to EAT the stuff. Simply trying once is not enough. You need to know if your body can handle it without undue reactions. Minor problems, such as MSG nervous tension, will blossom into high heart rates, blood pressure and mental cloudiness while under mental & emotional stress, or after consuming the foods following a period of decreased caloric intake (a form of physical stress).
  • c) It allows you to determine if the caloric content is of a type that your body will efficiently use. Why is this important? It is important because inefficient usage leads to increased consumption, which in turn depletes your food stocks quicker. This may not ever be a problem in most scenarios, but if you are planning to deal with severe shortages at some point, it makes sense to assure that your actual plan is as secure as your confidence in it.

Regarding Wise Foods and other “X-number of days food” companies. Do not go by “servings”. You will need to look at the calories within each container as a whole, and calculate your actual servings from that. Mixing and matching food types within a line of foods makes sense. Doing so with a calculator makes more sense. The boys will need near 2500 calories a day if active, and close to 3500 if under stress and working harder. You will need between 2000 at the low point, and 2800-3000 at the high. (Adult bodies are more food efficient). I’m not sure how your body runs calories when you are not feeling good. You’ll need to think about how it has performed in the past and make serious provision for that in the future. (This individual has certain medical issues that “flare” and are difficult to handle while in action.)

In a quick search of their site, I found no reference to calories that was helpful. You may want to e-mail them. Also, nutritional labels are rare beasts in their site. Check your samples for ingredients and calorie references. You may bounce that info off their claimed servings per package to calculate what’s really in that bucket.

Legacy Foods didn’t have much in the way of info either….

Here are some gluten-free food suppliers I found on a quick search.
http://www.augasonfarms.com/
http://www.glutenfreeemergencykits.com/
http://www.mixesfromtheheartland.com/
http://freezedryguy.com/Clubs/Protein.aspx
http://tomorrowsharvest.com/
http://www.thereadystore.com/food-storage?price=1%2C1000&specialty_foods=38

Some of those were non-GMO as well.

If you are picking up just enough food to get by for a couple weeks, then you might get by with the generic stuff. If you are really looking to build a food resource for a longer time, then a good foundation is worth the time and effort.

(The Better Half) and I went with individual ingredients, as I’ve said. The #10 cans will therefore be “open” longer before the contents are used up. I did an experiment with some of the Mountain House spaghetti, and moved the remainder into a sealed Tupperware container. After 6 months, I could still reconstitute it. #10 cans are packed in nitrogen (at least from MH). If you “scoop” the product out, and don’t tilt the can at any point, most of the nitrogen will remain in the can. The biggest issue with #10 cans is moisture re-absorption. You could toss in a desiccant pack and seal it up, but it might not be necessary.

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My Dear Wife, Keeper of “The Keep”, suggested I post this e-mail as an article. I’m glad she did. I had forgotten about it.

I want to revisit a point. There is no industry standard format for reporting nutritional ingredients within any LTS offering. You will not be able to place two company’s offerings of “1 month’s food for 2 people” side by side and expect that similarities in entrees will decide the deal for you against price. It just doesn’t work that way. The number of calories, or “calories per dollar” will differ, and in many cases that difference is extreme. The problem you will discover is that, because there is no standard as to what one day’s worth of food really is, you will need to bust out your calculator (or spreadsheet – hint hint). There is no way around it.

Some companies will tell you that you are getting “2000 calories per day” with their food unit. The larger the unit, the harder it is to verify. Adding up every calorie and dividing by days will get you in the ball park, but if some of those calories are fake calories, you will be sold sort. What are fake calories? Oh, they would be powdered drink mixes, bags of sugar, hard candies, deserts and the such. These types of calories will give you some energy, or a short period of “rush” (hard candy is a great instant sugar source for fight-or-flight situations). They can NOT keep you alive in good shape. For calories to worthy of the name they need to be nutritious. GOOD calories. Calories your body can use in the normal course of its regular routine of maintaining muscle and organ health, brain function, fat metabolism, etc. GOOD calories. If you are paying for 2000 calories per day, be sure you are getting something you can use, and not a stack of boxes that would better serve as props in a low-budget indie survivalist film.

My recommendations are:

  1. Verify the advertised total calories. Forget about “this number of days” claims, except as a guide pointing you to a possible LTS candidate for your pantry. Those claims are nothing more than that – claims.
  2. Subtract all of the fluff calories you can identify.
  3. Divide the remaining calories by the number of people you expect to feed.
  4. Divide that answer by 2000 for a ballpark figure of how many real days of sustenance you can expect from that food offering. 2000 is a round number. Youths will need more along the lines a 2500 for regular activities.

The fluff that you didn’t count is “extra” and not to be confused with quality foods.

This take a bit of time, if you are serious about buying a stock of food. If you are doing what we do these days, purchasing cans and bags of individual ingredients, it is a bit easier. We compare the servings sizes and calories, along with weight, in making our determinations.

Plus, my wife prefers making her own dishes, and it is easier this way. We cut out added spices and junk preservatives. Preservatives in freeze dried food? Yup! ‘Tis true! Some do!

So, in closing, be aware of what food suppliers are trying to push on you, and settle only for the food you can quantify, qualify and afford.

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