Food security is something most of us take for granted, because we have enjoyed easy access to relatively inexpensive food all of our lives. This is a relatively new phenomena for humanity and is still only true for a small portion of the more than six billion humans living on this planet.
In a civil emergency or natural disaster, the food distribution chain can easily become disrupted. You may be able to go to your local grocery store, but your local grocery store may not have food available for you to purchase. Worse, in a real civil emergency, it may not be safe for you to travel even as far as your local grocery story. Do you remember the L.A. riots? The rioters were attacking retail stores and it was unsafe to venture onto the streets. You could go hungry, just a few miles from a Super WalMart.
The solution, of course, is to story enough food for an emergency. Unfortunately, there are some complicating factors which can make food storage difficult.
How Much is Enough?
You should store enough food to last your family throughout an emergency. Of course, you don’t know how long the emergency will last — you don’t even know what the emergency might be.
The compromise answer to this question usually involves “How much food can you afford to store?”
In an emergency situation, the electrical power grid is very likely to be down. In a civil emergency, it may be unsafe for you to cook outside in your barbecue grill. You will very likely be eating a lot of cold food. This is where pre-cooked foods like MRE’s (Meals Ready-to-Eat) really shine.
Most food items deteriorate over time. Even food that is unspoiled and palatable may have lost a significant portion of it’s vitamin content.
The best protection against spoilage is constant rotation of your food stocks by eating the longest stored items and replacing them with fresh goods.
Food should be stored in cool, dry, dark locations. Heat, moisture, and light all accelerate the breakdown of food nutrients.
Food should also be stored so as to protect it from pests, such as roaches and rodents. Rats will eat through both paper bags and plastic containers to get into your stored foods. Metal containers are the most resistant to pests.
If you do choose to use plastic containers, make certain that the containers you use are listed as food grade. Non-food grade plastics can slowly poison your food, making it worse than having nothing at all.
Having a 55 gallon drum of MRE’s is not very useful if you can’t get to it. If you have a home and a weekend cabin, store food in both locations. In addition, every family vehicle should be stocked with a 2-3 day emergency supply of MRE’s which is rotated regularly. The heat in cars is very hard on foodstuffs.