Monday, 4 August 2014

09:39 – Kit sales are running at three a day, which is a decent rate for early August. Later in the month and into September, that rate should jump significantly.

Barbara and I joined Sam’s Club yesterday. We ended up getting a Sam’s Club Mastercard because that’s the only credit card they accept for purchases. We didn’t get much on our first trip, just a few cases of canned goods, a couple gallons of orange juice, and some frozen food. That, and a four gallon (~15 liter) carboy of spring water for $4. As I told Barbara, I didn’t care about the water itself. I wanted that heavy-duty PET carboy for making up solutions. I can buy similar carboys from one of our wholesalers, but they cost about $15 not including shipping.

11:48 – I was a bit surprised to see that Sam’s Club carries a huge variety of long-term storable food. Costco also carries long-term storable food, but a much smaller selection. I’ll buy a few items from them, but not many. Their dry goods (rice, flour, sugar, pasta, etc.) in #10 cans are considerably more expensive than the same thing at the LDS store, and I have no interest in freeze-dried stuff.

As with all long-term storage food, the stated shelf lives are entirely imaginary. Here’s one example: Augason Farms Iodized Salt Pail – 50 lbs. The shelf life is specified as “up to 30 years when sealed, up to 1 year under ideal conditions when opened”. Geez. They could just as easily have said 300 years, or 3000. Salt doesn’t spoil, not in one year, not in 30 years. Never. Sure, it may cake, but who cares? It never becomes dangerous to eat, and it never loses its nutritional value. Thousand-year-old salt is still salt. And $0.80 per pound is a lot to pay for table salt. I picked up several 4-pound boxes of Morton iodized table salt at Sam’s yesterday for $0.99 each. I’ll transfer it to clean, dry 2-liter soda bottles, where it will remain good for the next several thousand years.

None of the long-term food vendors even pretend to have any scientific basis for their shelf-life claims. All of them simply parrot other vendors’ claims. One vendor sometime in the distant past estimated that, for example, a #10 can of table sugar should still be good after 30 years, so now everyone claims more or less the same shelf life. Some of the “data” are actually funny. For example, some vendors specify ideal storage relative humidity. News flash, folks. The food in that #10 can has no clue what the humidity is outside the can. But moisture and humidity are Bad Things, so I guess they expect customers to believe that storing those cans at 30% or 50% RH will cut down on shelf life. Geez.

They also have an odd way of looking at expected shelf life depending on the type of container. The same item may be available in both #10 cans and aluminized Mylar (“foil”) pouches, with the shelf life of the cans specified as 25 years versus only 18 months for the pouches. Another news flash, folks. Aluminized Mylar provides essentially the same level of protection against light, moisture, and oxygen as the #10 can. Now, it’s true that the pouch is much more likely to have a defective seal than the can, and it’s also true that rodents are much more likely to gnaw through the pouch than the can, but the fact remains that both forms of packaging should provide a very similar shelf life assuming the seal is not compromised. If it is, all bets are off, but it’s an all-or-nothing situation: if the seal is good, the food inside the pouch should last as long as the food in the #10 can. If the seal is compromised, the food inside either the can or the pouch can no longer be trusted. So what’s with the 18-month versus 25-year shelf life estimates?