People all over the country are stockpiling food in case bad things happen and going to the grocery story isn’t an option. A lot of people who stockpile food simply fill a pantry with rice, beans and some canned goods and call it good. Although that is an option, it probably isn’t the best course of action.
The human body needs a variety of nutrients in order to keep going, so rice and beans aren’t going to cut it over the long haul.
Rich Scheckenbach from Breakthrough Nutrition has spent much of his adult life studying nutrition and formulating products that help keep people healthy and strong. He explains that everybody needs a lot of carbohydrates and protein.
“Foods like rice, honey and sugar are good things to have stored because they have a long shelf life, but the body needs much more than that. Protein is necessary because our body needs the building blocks of protein called ‘essential amino acids.’ Plus, we need vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, like Omega 3 that is found in salmon.”
“The human body needs a variety of nutrients in order to keep going, so rice and beans aren’t going to cut it over the long haul.”
Obviously, storing salmon and red meat can be difficult, but storing a variety of meats isn’t something people should shy away from.
“Storing meat like canned venison, salmon or jerky is a great idea. People just need to realize that this type of thing will need to be rotated periodically, and the old canned goods will need to be consumed and new stuff put in its place,” Scheckenbach advised.
There is no question that in some cases, canned goods can be stored for years, but Scheckenbach says the longer something is stored, the fewer nutrients it will have.
“Canned goods that have been stored a short time will have more nutrients than something that has been stored for years. Of course, when storing food, you want it to be packed with protein and other nutrients so it can help keep you healthy and strong. Making sure food doesn’t sit for years is a good idea.”
He points out that how long something will last really depends on a variety of factors, including how cool and dry the area is where it is stored. “Keeping stored food cool and dry is necessary when storing it long term, which is why many people have cellars or pantries in their basements.”
IN PURSUIT OF PROTEIN
Much is written and discussed when it comes to storing food, but very little is written about how much protein the body needs to keep going. Knowing how much fuel you need in the tank to keep yourself healthy is crucial, especially if there is ever a real disaster as a result of which getting to a doctor isn’t an option.
“Staying healthy and strong is very important. Going to a doctor might not always be an option if we have a crisis, so staying healthy is important. Having the food on hand to do that makes staying healthy easier,” Scheckenbach explained.
Scheckenbach says that when in survival mode, the body needs 50 to 60 grams of protein each day to keep going. We often need at least 2,000 calories daily over the long term to stay healthy and maintain our current weight. Some people require fewer calories; some require more. A lot depends on your activity level and how many calories you burn each day. Keep these things in mind as you fill your pantry with food.
“Protein is necessary, because our body needs the building blocks of protein called ‘essential amino acids.’ plus, we need vitamins, minerals and essential Fatty acids, like omega 3 that is found in salmon.”
Scheckenbach says the best proteins available are animal proteins. “Animal proteins are more easily digested by humans and contain a better profile of the essential amino acids than other forms of protein, so they really help keep us healthy.”
Besides canned meat and jerky, there are several ways to get animal protein. One of them is by drinking powdered protein shakes. Many of these shakes that can be purchased at the store contain whey protein, which is from animals.
“The advantage of powdered products that contain protein is they can last for years and don’t require much preparation to store them. The benefit of anything that comes in powder form is it can be stored for a long time. In most cases, it is easily digested by the body, which is also very important,” Scheckenbach points out.
When storing powdered products, don’t forget to store a few “indulgences.” Hot cocoa and Tang are sweet treats that can help keep you going in a disaster. Surviving adversity over the long term requires a lot of mental strength, and when you are eating the same things, day in and day out, you can quickly get depressed. Keeping a few fun foods in the pantry for those days when you need a boost can truly be a lifesaver.
Foods such as brown rice, whole-grain pasta, beans, whole wheat, whole oats, buckwheat, millet, whole rye, whole-grain barley and whole-grain corn are considered good carbohydrates. These foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that promote good health. Whenever possible, these ingredients should be included in your food stores.
When we think of storing vegetables, most people think of canning or freezing them. Although both of these options are great, having a vegetable powder as a backup plan is a great option.
“A powdered vegetable product is very stable, unlike things in a liquid form, so it will last for years and give you the phytonutrients you need to stay healthy,” Scheckenbach explains.
Healthy fats are available from a variety of sources. Olive and canola oils are popular, and fish is a good source of fat and might be available as needed, depending on where you’re hunkered down. Salmon, tuna, trout, striped bass, mackerel, herring and sardines are good options. Additional sources of fat include flax or hemp seeds and avocados.
“Going to a doctor might not always be an option if we have a crisis, so staying healthy is important.”
Other things to store that most people rarely think about are nuts and seeds.
“There are many different nuts and seeds out there that are good for us and easy to store long term,” says Scheckenbach.
This is a great option, because there is such a variety of nuts and seeds available; this creates variety when trying to live off what is in the pantry. Eating the same, old thing every day can be boring. It’s important to remember that these foods must be kept away from oxygen, which will cause the oils in nuts and seeds to become rancid.
ALTERNATIVES TO CANNING
Many people shy away from storing food long term, because canning food is complicated. Powdered or freeze-dried products are great options.
“Freeze-dried food is great. It can be stored a long time and has the protein in it people need,” Scheckenbach says. The down side is that freeze-dried food, even when purchased in large amounts, can be expensive.
Don’t forget about storing vitamins and supplements.
“One way to make sure you are getting the vitamins you need is by taking vitamins. Taking Omega 3 fish oil capsules is a good thing to do. Most things in a pill or capsule form have a long shelf life and are easy to store, so having them on hand makes a lot of sense,” Scheckenbach notes.
One thing is certain: Most of us won’t fill our pantry with food if the process seems hard so, in addition to storing some canned foods, don’t forget seeds, nuts, vitamins and powdered proteins that have long shelf lives. These products are easy to find, purchase and stash in your cellar.
If you are looking for a good meal replacement product, check out the Meal Replacement Shake from Wilderness Athlete. This company makes a variety of nutritional products for people on the go, as well as people who just want to have food on hand that is good for them.
The Wilderness Athlete Meal Replacement is made with high-quality whey protein and contains 230 calories and 24 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
Wilderness Athlete also makes a great vegetable drink called Green Infusion that contains the phytonutrient equivalent of six servings of fruits and vegetables.
By Tracy Breen
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the October 2016 print issue of American Survival Guide.