By Travis Birch
Oxygen Gives Life
It is one of the simplest and most active elements for sustaining life. It fuels and feeds all that it interacts with. Oxygen, it fuels fire, fills our lungs and it increases the life cycle of various life forms, such as yeast, bacteria and mold.
It is the catalyst for expiration dates on the prepackaged foods and drinks we buy. When a food item, for example salsa is processed, it is preserved with additives, or pasteurized to minimize the growth of pathogens, a ‘kill step’. Once you open it as part of your fajita dinner, you expose it to oxygen. That oxygen begins to feed any microorganisms that we share this world with. If not consumed in a suitable time frame, you can notice growth building inside the jar, you just turned a condiment into a science experiment.
How Accurate are Expiration Dates?
The FDA requires expiration dates on all consumable products. Through research and development programs this date is determined at the point where the compounds that keep the product whole are no longer considered beneficial to content or taste.
Consumed beyond the stated date means you are less likely to receive the intended targeted results in potential, flavor or appearance. In some cases the product can break down physically or lose its preserved state. That said, if my dog Chester and I were starving, and all we have left is a two week expired jar of applesauce, you can bet the farm that we’d eat it.
Since my wife and I are preparing to live a life off the grid in the near future, we try to acclimate to that lifestyle as much as we can at home and at our cabin with our two sons, and dog Chester. I have compiled a list of some of the basic staples we keep on hand because they are cheap, quick and easy ways to have food on hand that can live a little longer than their respective expiration dates. These staples do not need refrigeration to stay fresh, and are approved by Chester and myself. If we are at the house, and a SHTF moment presents itself, these are some items that will make their way into our bug out bag immediately.
This is a great addition to your pantry. A satisfying snack that has a little salt and crunch, crackers. The thing that I love about crackers is how it can naturally extend anything you add it to. If they become stale, they can be crushed and added to chili or soup to thicken it. If we are down to the last can of dog food,, split it in half and add crushed crackers to double the meal for Chester until we can replenish his kibble.
This is great to keep in a survival kit, in your car, or any place you frequent, peanut butter. With natural fats and protein this is a quickly absorbed energy snack that will satisfy your hunger and cravings while supplementing your body’s resources.
Canned Fruit and Juices
With these staples you can buy or make your own, and they generally last long after their best buy dates 100% juice. These items are usually pasteurized, which means they have been cooked to a point that any harmful bacteria has been killed. It is closed quickly to allow a vacuum to establish a barrier that keeps canning foods preserved. Generally if you see no indication of growth on the product, and the vacuum on the lid is still intact, you are probably safe to eat.
Canned Fish, Meat and Soup
Usually these items are good for two years after they are produced. But you can expect them to last longer than the date specified. Soups, chili, sardines and other meats and seafood all fall into this class. Dented can don’t necessarily mean that your product has gone bad, if you have a can with a dent, and it’s not bulging out as if it has a tumor, you are good to eat it. If you find a bulging can it may indicate unintended growth is occurring.
And if you have powdered milk, you need a trusty supply of water. We purchase cases and gallons of water, and rotate our stock so that we always have ready to go stash. Our in town home and our cabin both collect rain water for long term consuming. We rotate this out as well, using older supplies to water the lawn, as we collect fresher water for emergency consumption.
Nuts & Granola
Both of these options are a no-brainer granola. They offer a good source of protein and carbs. They offer quick energy, stay fresh forever and, they’re easy to store almonds. Everybody enjoys them, and you can mix and match these for trail mix, a cereal additive or to slip into your pocket for any excursion. We buy these in bulk and vacuum seal them for long term storage.
The final staple we include are spices. Salt, pepper, sugar and, our favorites such as garlic powder and paprika can be used to enhance flavors especially in older foods, and they can be used to preserve meats. You should include any variety of spices that you and your family enjoy. Taco seasoning, chili powder and. Lemon pepper rank high in our household.