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Food Insurance: Is this stuff really any good?
September 07, 2013
Food Insurance: Is this stuff really any good?
Vic Biorseth, Saturday, September 7, 2013
All of us conspiracy-theorizing, global-calamity doomsday-preppers need their Food Insurance. Right?
It's always a good idea to be prepared; you should have learned that in boy scouts. If you didn't, well - you should always be prepared for whatever contingency might arise, because lots of other people are not going to be prepared. They will need help. When an emergency occurs, be it storm, flood, whatever - you may not have electricity, you may not have the availability of Kroger's for some time, fuel may not be available, etc., etc., etc. This "temporary emergency" situation could go on for weeks or months.
Food is the first and perhaps most primary thing you should think about storing, and not just for calamity situations. If you are not good at keeping and living within a budget, as many are not, you may live just week to week or even day to day on what's in the cupboard and in the refrigerator. What happens if you lose your job or source of income? How long can you feed yourself? Do you have a wife and kids?
Hurricane Sandy struck on October 29, 2012. Don't look now, but Staten Island residents have still not recovered; they're still in a "temporary state of emergency". They've been left on their own by the government. Could you hold out that long?
Learn the lesson of the squirrel and store up food.
The idea of a 2-week "bug-out bag" intrigued me. It's supposed to contain enough food for one man for two weeks, all contained in a back pack, along with a bunch of other survival stuff. But the food - a 2-week supply - is what got my attention. That's a heck of a lot of food for one back pack.
As an old Army puke, I had to carry my own food a lot, and let me tell you - I never carried any two weeks worth at any one time. Of course, that was in the old C-Ration days, when most of it was canned. I got to where I actually liked it. Especially pound cake, except for all the work you had to go through just to get it out of the can in one big cylinder. You had to open both ends of the can with your trusty P38 and push it out. But it was worth it.
Bottom line, two weeks worth of C-Rations, number one, would be hard to lift; and, number two, it wouldn't leave any room for your other equipment, ammo and gear. We seldom carried more than one or two meals, rarely one or two day's food, and that was about it. If we stayed in one spot for some time, we would get boxes of five-in-ones (five day's food for one man), or five-in-twos, (for two men) or sometimes 10-in-twos. But these would be delivered by chopper or jeep or truck. Certainly not in back packs.
So the idea of a 2-week bug-out bag got my attention. Theoretically, when an emergency occurred, depending on the circumstances, you could throw it in your truck, or in your wheelbarrow, or on your back, and bug out, if you had to.
So, I ordered one, to find out about this stuff. Ultimately, we got three, because there are three of us in the house. It works. It has a lot of useful gimmicky stuff; there's a flimsy little stove and some fuel pellets for it. It works; I have a better little ultra-light camping stove I've used for bicycle camping that I really prefer. Add some long-nose butane lighters to the kit; they're always better than matches, at least until they run dry. There are some do-everything kind of all-in-one tools, but if you already have any of those you will probably prefer them to what comes in this kit.
The first aid kit is very good. I would only add plenty of large and various shaped band-aids. Mostly what I remember worrying about in the boonies is blisters and abrasions from wet boots, and wet, hard rubbing web gear and shoulder harness for gear and back packs. You put appropriate band-aids on the raw spots, abrasions or blisters, suit up again and get on with business.
There is a little wind-up radio that works with no batteries. Like most other stuff, it's trying to be multipurpose and multifunction, so it's also a flashlight, map light, yada, yada, yada. You might be tempted to toss it; but you should keep it. It works. You don't know if or when or for how long you might one day be without electricity and without a source of batteries. Keep it in the pack.
The neatest thing in the whole kit, for me, is the plastic water bottle. It has a good carbon filter attached to the lid that fits down inside the bottle when you screw it on. You take the lid-filter off, scoop up some river water or whatever water is available in the bottle, put the lid back on, and take a drink. Whatever comes out to top has been filtered, and is good drinking water. We could use a bunch of these.
The pack itself is quite good; the various pockets are well laid out and convenient, it's very well padded and well put together. It should hold up really well. And it ain't all that heavy with everything in it.
That's what I was looking for.
As to the food, which is what this is supposed to be all about, it's a damned sight better than C-Rations. Each meal comes in a little flat-bottomed, stand-up semi-metallic package containing a freeze-dried meal of some kind. (There's beef stew, lasagna, etc.) The top of the package has a zip-seal; above the zip-seal is a tear notch. To prepare, you tear the top off at the tear notch, and it will still be sealed at the zip seal.
You put one cup of your filtered water into your little supplied metal cup, and put it on your little stove. You light your little fuel pellet in the stove to boil the water in the cup. When it's boiling good, you open the zip seal on the bag and pour one cup of boiling water into the bag with the freeze-dried stuff in it. You stir it around with a fork, and then seal the zip seal, and let it stand for ten minutes. After ten minutes, you open it, stir it again, and eat it right out of the bag.
I have to say the beef stew was pretty good. A little loose for stew, but still quite good. More of a soup than a stew. Beats the hell out of cold C-Ration beans, or even hot C-Ration beans. The chunks of beef are very small, but there are a lot of them. Too many peas for my taste, but I don't like peas much. Everything - beef, peas, corn, potatoes - everything seemed as good as fresh. Hard to believe, but true. The water became a very tasty broth. Overall I would say it was a very good meal, in quality and in quantity. Not mama's cooking, but then, nothing but mama's cooking is mama's cooking.
I was tempted to try everything, but, this is supposed to be stored for emergency. Now I know it works as advertised, so I'll keep the rest as is.
One little problem I noticed is that there are some larger packages of food that go beyond the one meal for one man philosophy. For instance, there's a large package of macaroni and cheese that is too big for your little one cup cup. It says on the package to add the contents to five cups of boiling water. Now, where, in this pack, is a there any five cup pot?
A small point, perhaps, but if this is supposed to be a real bug-out bag for one man, then one man should be able to prepare each meal, one meal at a time, with what's in this one bag. In nine out of ten emergency scenarios, you would be cooking in or very near your own premises, and a pot would be available. But, in that tenth one, you would be out in the boonies with your little cup and your little stove, and I guess you would be trying to portion out one fifth of your mac and cheese and reseal the bag. If I were the chief designer of this thing, each bug-out meal would be a stand-alone one-bag meal.
If you get multiple bug-out bags for multiple people in the house, as we did, after you go over everything, there are some things you ought to do with everyone old enough to understand present and participating.
You should pack each individual bag exactly the same way, with every one knowing where things go in each pack. When you need something in a real emergency, the last thing you need to do is to start fumbling around dumping things out to find that one thing you need. Pick a spot for every item, and put it in the exact same place in every single back pack, no exceptions. Pay particular attention to the first aid kits. Put them where you can get them quick, and make sure all members of the family know exactly where to go to get a specific item out of any of the back packs. Make sure everyone understands that whenever they take out and use any item, when they are finished, they are to put it exactly back where they got it. Every time.
In any real emergency, in the dark, in utter confusion, you need to be able to get whatever you need quickly without fumbling around and wasting time. Odds are that's never going to happen, but you are supposed to be prepared. It is your duty.
This stuff keeps for 25 years, as is, without refrigeration or any special care. The bug-out bags are only good for emergencies of two weeks, or however long you can space it out. You really need more. If you can't afford a year's supply, buy what you can afford. Seriously, you need to do this. Don't buy it all at once if you can't afford it. Once a month, get a one week supply. Any month you can't afford it, don't buy it. If you can afford more, buy more. Start building up a supply.
It's light; it's good; it's nutritious; it keeps. You don't have to be a doomsday-preper like me. All you need is common sense, and a proper sense of preparedness.
(Read the Original Article at Food Insurance.)
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