I once read that the average American can miss only nine meals before resorting to acts of desperation. I don't know who came up with that statistic but it is reasonable to assume that after a disaster people might get pretty antsy after eating the last can of cranberry sauce or jar of anchovies from their pantry. It also probably depends upon whether you are skinny or fat. Like a buffalo or a camel I could probably live off my "hump" and my "rump" for quite awhile. However, I have decided that in the light of so many recent disasters around the world it might be prudent to gather up a few things and store them in a footlocker "por si las moscas" as they say here in Mexico which means "just in case". I also feel that it must be something that you can store away and pretty much forget about without worrying too much about the "fecha de caducidad" or "expiration date".
I came up with three canned good items that will last almost indefinitely in storage but for at least three years without worry that they might go bad or lose their flavor. The first is sweetened condensed milk. Here in Mexico the popular brand is "La Lechera" but in the U.S. and Canada there are a number of popular brands. It was developed by Gail Borden in 1854 and one of the first uses was for portable rations for the Union Army during the Civil War. A typical 14 oz (300 ml) can contains 1,300 calories ), 1 oz (30 g) each of protein and fat, and more than 7 oz (200 g) of carbohydrate.
The second item is good old Spam which was developed in 1937 by Hormel Foods and became the basis for some of the canned "C" rations and "K" rations in World War II. Spam is typically sold in cans with a net weight of 340 grams (12 ounces). A 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving of original Spam provides 310 Calories, 13 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 27 grams of total fat, including 10 grams of saturated fat. The processing techniques utilized by Hormel Foods makes the canned product safe for use indefinitely if the product seal remains intact, unbroken and securely attached to a can that has been well maintained. Okay, so health food it ain't but it will keep you going. Just ask an old soldier. My father was a tank commander in the Normandy Invasion and he told me that his favorite "K" ration was Spam with chunks of carrots and apples.
The third item is canned sardines. A 4 oz. can of sardines packed in oil has about 210 calories consisting of 23 grams of protein, 11 grams of fat, and 1 gram of saturated fat. Canned tuna packed in oil is another good item and can have a shelf life of up to ten years. The same for canned chicken. Personally, I think that three years is a good shelf life for all of these items and then you should "borrar y cuenta nueva" or "erase and start over".
Certainly there are more foods that could lend themselves to prudence aforethought but I picked these because you don't need to cook them or refrigerate them. If you include foods that you need to cook you better include an axe so that you can bust up your furniture for fuel. A lot of your planning depends upon whether you want a three day emergency supply or a contingency plan that will cover several weeks. I wouldn't go overboard but like they say here "Mejor prevenir que lamentar" or "It's better to prepare than be sorry". FEMA has a guide that may be helpful to those who are interested, especially families with small children. You can access it and save it in .pdf format by clicking here.
Buen Provecho (Bon Appétit)
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