10 October 2010

Survival of the fattest...

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)


Tancho said...

An easy and pretty decent stash is to dehydrate both vegetables and fruits, then simply vacuum bag them with a home style vacuum sealer. The stuff will last for a long time and take up little room.
Making beef jerky is not a bad idea either.
Tuna fish will last a pretty long time as is the tuna fish that is in the metal envelopes.
Good idea to have enough for 4 or 5 days at least.

GlorV1 said...

Great ideas Bob. It never hurts to be prepared. I have done thagt beofre when things have gotten a little scary. Right now my pantry is pretty stocked and I always have tuna in the metal envelopes as Tancho says, sardine I have a few cans and I always have spam. Thanks Bob. Oh and we have lots of wood outside plus all the trees if needed. Take care and have a great week.

Don Cuevas said...

This will be tenuously related to Bob's theme.

Years ago, while exploring a long, difficult, very wet and muddy Arkansas cave, we had nearly reached our limit of endurance, but not the end of the cave. We found a reasonably dry mud bank and took a meal break.

In my sodden caving pack, I had a can of condensed milk, a small can of sliced peaches, and a can of sardines in mustard sauce. Someone else had a can of vienna sausages.

We made a great feast of the sardines, reserving the mustard sace to pour over the vienna sausages (after first drinking the broth). Then we poured the condensed milk over the peach slices. Everyone enjoyed this memorable underground feast.

We got out of the cave at about 1 or 2 in the morning, totally drenched and exhausted but nourished.

Keep those canned foods around for emergencies. (I'm not too keen on Spam, but I can eat it.)

Native Mexican foods you can store: pinole, cecina, masa harina, dry maíz pozolero. Can you think of more?

Cuppa Noodles!

Don Cuevas

Leslie Harris (de Limon) said...

When I lived in California, we were always fearful of when THE BIG ONE would strike. I made sure that I always had spam, canned corn beef, vienna sausages, canned fruits and veggies, evaporated milk and lots of bottled water on hand in case of emergency.

I don't have a stash here in Mexico because we don't think of things like that anymore. Pero uno nunca sabe. Now, I've got something to keep me busy this week.

Thanks for the reminder! :)

Chrissy y Keith said...

Great posting Bob. Here is why being an Alaskan pays off. I am wired to have pantry for at least 2 weeks. I have 3 stocked freezers and know how to preserve that food in cold or smoked if and when I need too. Even now I have 24 eggs being pickled. Good thing we love Spam, Anchovies, Tuna and guns.

Unknown said...

Great reminder to be prepared. When I was younger, we canned and kept lots of stuff b/c our grandparents were farmers. Conserving the harvest was naturally a wise choice. I like your choices. And lots of water. Potable water. And a can opener. I may make a list too. Honduras may get another tropical storm this week.

norm said...

Dry pasta in jars, heat the jars up to a bug killing temp before you store them and they will hold longer than we will be alive. Dried beans are another staple that can be stored for very long periods. Gas with a stabilizer is a good idea, you can boil water with it, run a saw, car or motor bike, it is the best portable fuel in my way of looking at it.

Steve Cotton said...

Great post. I need to do a bit of planning about what I store in the pantry when I return to Mexico. I have always kept about a month's worth of food on hand in Oregon -- just in case. Something I learned from my mother, I suspect. But, as always, my favorite part of your post was your insertion of Spanish phrases. Always new. Always in context. Always helpful.

Judy said...

What! No Nido? Even this Kansas bound kid knows about the joys of Nido. I love it as a creamer in my tea.

Anonymous said...

We were thinking of laying in a supply of powdered water until we realized that we didn't know what it should be mixed with!

One Small Voz said...

Hurricane Karl reminded me it's a good idea to keep some non-perishables on the shelf. Most folks lamented the same sentiment after not being prepared. Hopefully, should something happen again we'll heed warning better.

jason said...

God bless La Lechera, saved my ass, whilst I was cycling in Baja, lechera and tortilla's, o yes! :)

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.