by Jeff Mann

When things go wrong (aka: SHTF) the grocery stores will be cleaned out within a day or two. I remember after Charley Hit Florida in 2004, I went to the local grocery store once they re-opened. Within two days nothing was left on the shelves. It was not mobs busting glass and taking everything. It was people like you and me panic buying. They were buying anything they could eat or use, and as much as they could afford or carry. The power was off in my area for 12 days. I live in a small town and everyone has guns. We did not have any theft problems anywhere in our area. Most refrigerators were long empty before electricity was available. For the preppers like myself, we had power the whole time. Food, lights, gas for cooking, and hot water were never a problem for us. But, for the other 95% of the people that had little preps, waiting on the government to bring ice & water each day to the local school became their job. That’s why having a good knowledge of food storage techniques and survival food preparation is so important.

I thought with the height of 2013′ Hurricane season almost on us, it would be a good time to review some possible dangers to your survival food storage. We at have been getting a lot more readers from the Eastern USA. Hurricane Sandy has taught us there is no “Safe Zone” anywhere on the Eastern US coast line.

I want to offer a basic long term food storage refresher course. Please inspect your food storage now and make sure the food your counting on is in good shape and will be ready when you need it. This information is the same no matter where you’re located.

What are the main risks to your survival food storage?

Let’s take a look at the biggest problems for any food storage program:

Oxygen: Any presence of oxygen allows microorganisms, bacteria, and pests to live and thrive in your survival food. Also, many nutrients will oxidize losing the vitamin content the food would have provided. The use of oxygen absorbers (like all freeze dried food makers put in their products) can remove the oxygen in your food containers, leaving only your food and nitrogen (which is not harmful). These oxygen absorbers can be purchased online at about .35 each for a 1″ x 1″ absorber. One or more should be used in any DIY person’s dry food storage container. How many you use will vary on the size of the container your filling.

Temperature: The optimal temperature for survival food storage is between 40f and 65f degrees (the lower the better). The reason why a cold temperature is best for food storage is the storage life of most stored foods is cut in half for every increase of 15 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you bought Mountain House freeze dried food (It’s the best freeze dried food on the market). If it were in the #10 cans you would get a storage life of 30+ years at 40f to 65f. Now, take that same #10 cans of freeze dried food and store it in a warm Florida indoor closet. On average that will have a temperature range of around 77f to 81f degrees. You would need to start checking that food supply at 12 to 15 years and do a yearly check going forward. Temperature consistency also plays a factor in shelf life. You should always try to store your foods where you do have a big temperature change. Always base your estimated shelf life on the highest temperature your foods will be stored in.

Moisture: The ideal humidity level for your survival food is 20% or less. I live in Florida where the humidity is typically 90% to 95% outdoors. One way around the high humidity and moisture issue is quality sealed packaging. There are lots of choices including vacuum seal bags, and mason jars for the DIY prepper. For the freeze dried foods, #10 cans, and mylar bags will stop most moisture, pests, and light. One other great option is pre-cooked in the can meats. This is the very best tasting real meat I have tried. These are made by Survival Cave Foods and offer a 15+ year shelf life. In Florida we do have one more saving grace, central air conditioning will drop the humidity level in the average home to around 45%.

Pests:Here is just one more problem you face. High humidity and moisture provide the perfect breeding ground for bugs and their larvae. It is very important to be aware of what pests you have in your particular geographical area. This is more for the DIY food storage program. Pests are really no problem with freeze dried foods in #10 cans or the canned meats. The freeze dried foods in the pouches can have real problems from mice and rats.

Light: Light through the energy it puts off has a degrading effect on your storage foods. Light will reduce the nutritional value, taste, and appearance of your storage foods. Again, this is not a problem with most freeze dried foods. But, for the DIY food storage plan light must be in your long term storage planning. Light is really bad on fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D & E. If you using canning jars a thick tarp or blanket can be used to block any light from natural or man made sources.

Old Age: The enemy of us all. And old age is also the enemy of your stored foods. Most DIY food storage systems must have a rotation plan in effect and each bucket or jar dated. If you want a 30 year shelf life, the only way to get there is freeze dried foods. I have tried them all over the past 25+ years. My personal favorite is Mountain House Foods, they are also the oldest freeze dryer in the country. I also keep Survival Cave canned meats. Both of these great tasting, long lasting survival foods can be found online with free shipping and no sales tax at:

Disclaimer: I’m not a writer, I do not spell well, and leave out things in my sentences. If you want to be a school teacher and tell me everything I did wrong, get in line. I’m sure many others are telling me the same as you are reading this. I do however have a lot of experience with long term storage foods and the problems you can have with any long term food storage program. I hope this article can help you think about the many safety factors of food storage. If your like me, that “Old Age” thing is becoming hell. I just forget to re-check my personal food storage as often as I should.

Happy Prepping…….Jeff Mann

  1. Alej.cj says:

    Very good ideas 🙂

  2. geni says:

    The Survival Mom offers a systematic inventory plan that takes the overwhelming task of taking inventory of your stocks and breaks it into manageable portions. (I noted your comment at the end that said you sometimes forget to recheck, so thought it might be useful.)

  3. Elise says:

    This year, Toronto had a lot higher humidity than usual. Never had to worry about it before this year! But yeah, the investment we made in a dehumidifier has certainly proven worthy.