Thursday, 1 June 2017

08:47 – It was 57.2F (14C) when I took Colin out around 0630 this morning, once again blindingly sunny.

Barbara called yesterday afternoon to ask me if the drop-ceiling installers were here. They weren’t, and didn’t show up yesterday. Elaine at our contractor had told me last week that they had a major project in progress that had an absolute deadline of 31 May, and had severe penalties for not meeting that deadline, so I’m not surprised they didn’t make it out here. Barbara and I agreed that it’d be fine with us if they didn’t show up here until next week, after she returns. Two more days until she gets back.

I’ve written off another prepping site that I formerly recommended. Lisa Bedford (Survival Mom) has a pretty good book out for beginning preppers, and her site has featured more than a few decent articles. Like nearly all of the women prepper authors, she has woo-woo tendencies–herbal medicine, “natural” foods, short expiration dates, and so on, but she largely kept that in check and made sane suggestions.

Then I read this article on her site yesterday. It’s not just bad. Everything about it is wrong. She pushes two types of food in this article: MRE’s and freeze-dried. Both of those are horrible choices for preppers, if only because they have the highest cost per calorie of any LTS food available. But Lisa stocks both of them in large quantities.

And by large, I mean 96 cases of MRE’s (1152 MRE’s total) and 400 #10 cans of freeze-dried foods for her family of four. She thinks of the #10 cans of FD food as cheap (!) alternatives to MRE’s, which cost $20 to $30 per person PER DAY. FD is cheaper than MRE’s, barely, but only in the sense that gold is a cheap alternative to platinum. And her family cycles through those MRE’s every three years, eating 288 MRE’s per year among them. Geez.

She’s also somehow concluded that people can overdose on MRE’s. Yes, the military recommends that MRE’s not be eaten exclusively for more than 21 days at a time, but Lisa takes that to mean only 21 days’ worth of MRE’s can be eaten per year. So, I guess she plans to pig out on MRE’s for three weeks and then eat FD foods for the rest of the year.

FD is also outrageously expensive. We don’t stock any of it. To compare, a pound of canned Keystone ground beef (or chicken or pork or turkey) from Walmart costs about $3.60. That same pound reconstituted from FD costs three to four times that much. But I’m sure Lisa chose FD meat because she thinks canned meat has a short shelf life. It doesn’t. The USDA says that properly canned meats–either commercially-canned or home-canned–are safe and nutritious indefinitely. I’ve posted before about tests done on meats and other foods that had been canned more than a hundred years before they were opened for testing. They tested fine. No biological contamination, so they were safe. Minor loss of vitamins, particularly A and C, but they remained nutritious. They even looked indistinguishable from freshly canned products.

I read an article on Rawles’ blog a few days ago that summed things up pretty well. The author says pretty much what I’ve been saying for decades: dates on canned foods are imaginary. They have no basis in reality. Properly-canned foods remain safe to eat and nutritious essentially forever, assuming the container has not been compromised.

Lisa also believes that FD foods in general have much longer shelf lives than dehydrated foods, let alone canned foods. That’s wrong. All of those shelf-life numbers are entirely bogus. Her can of FD peas with a rated shelf life of 30 years will in fact be unchanged after 300 years, but then if she had a can of ordinary Green Giant wet-packed peas, they’d also be fine 100 or more years from now.

As to FD versus commercially-dehydrated food, the only difference is the amount of remaining free moisture. The actual numbers vary slightly, but typical FD food has had 98% to 99% of the free water removed, while typical commercial-dehydrated food has had 93% to 96% removed. Yes, the FD food is SLIGHTLY drier, but not enough to make any difference in real-world shelf-life. Either type of food will last essentially forever.

So, every $30 Lisa spends on MRE’s feeds one person for maybe a day. That same $30 could feed that person for a month on dry bulk LTS food, albeit with a pretty boring menu. Or she could spend that $30 on bulk + canned and feed that person a tasty normal diet for a week, with lots of meat.

Some might point out that MRE’s and FD are easy-prep, and that’s a valid consideration. But it’s just as easy to make meals from dry and canned foods with little or no prep. If you can boil water, cook some macaroni or rice and dump a can of Dinty Moore beef stew or Chef Boyardee ravioli over it. Or just eat the stuff cold, straight from the can.