What is Emergency Food?
Emergency food is food that one stores for emergency purposes. To expand, it is food that can be and has been stored for the single purpose of being consumed in times of disasters where you and your family are cut off from your primary food source (e.g. market, grocery, farm, etc.). Emergency food supplies can consist of foods that you normally consume, but had been bought in excess from the weekly trip to the market and stored for this very purpose. Emergency food supplies generally consist of commercially packaged food – canned, freeze dried food and the like, which may be stored for a long time, up to 25 years and beyond, without special storage requirements like refrigeration. Or they may be handmade preserved items which can be done through canning, pickling, and other methods of preservation.
Why is Emergency Food important?
The importance of emergency food stems from the need of man to consume food in order to survive. Emergency food is an investment, one which can most likely be used to ensure you and your family’s survival through any disaster, short or long term, that may prevent you from accessing and purchasing food from an outside source. Emergency food serves as security for you and your family by means of:
- Boosting morale and keeping stress levels low – When there is food, people are less inclined to panic safe in the knowledge that they have access to life’s critical commodities and therefore will more likely to have a clear mind in order to make decisions with regards to a during or post-disaster agenda.
- Nourishment for the family even without the convenience of purchasing food – In case of financial crisis, emergency food, when continuously stocked, can become long term survival food and can aid your family by having money spent more on more vital matters than food (since you have it stocked already) which may become overpriced in these types of crises.
In a nutshell, having emergency food is being prepared for almost anything, and being secure knowing that you have sustenance even during times when it is not readily available and others may not.
What methods do people use – Freeze Dried, Canned, Rotation, Buckets?
There are many methods for storing emergency food, some of which are discussed below.
Freeze dried food are foods – be it raw ingredients, staples or even cooked meals – which have gone through the process of lyophilization, or freeze drying. Freeze dried foods are often mixed up with another preservation method, dehydration, mostly because of their outcome (preserved state, for some), but their processes are definitely different from each other. Foods that will undergo freeze drying first needs to be checked before going through freezing, which will require that every inch of the food be frozen. After which the water is removed through the process of sublimation – the process in which solids turn to gas without passing through the liquid phase. Commercially packaged freeze dried food – such as Mountain House – have a guaranteed shelf life of over 25 years – meaning it can stay in a cool dry place without other special storage facilities without spoiling. There pre freeze dried meals, though the best and most valuable solution over the long term, can be high cost intially and thus not for everyone. However, there are ways in which people can freeze dry food parcels at home.
Canning is one of the more popular food storage methods. This is the method in which food is processed (either commercially or at home) and stored in air-tight cans or jars for long-term use. Food is first preserved – there are many ways to preserve food – and are placed in sterile, air-tight containers.
Rotation is a food storage method in which emergency food can be stored for its intended use and is rotated for the food to be replaced and consumed before its best before date. Rotation can also be done not only for emergency food, but for those storing food for consumption. By taking note of the date it was purchased or the date it will expire or quality starts to deteriorate, one is able to consume stored goods without fear of wastage.
The bucket system is another food storage method wherein foods with a high shelf life are stored in high-grade and food grade buckets along with oxygen absorbers or other methods for removing oxygen for long term food storage. There are others who combine the food grade bucket with other food storage methods, such as Mylar bags and even freeze dried food – these combinations can also be another form of rotating food supply by combining food with similar best before dates.