*Dispelling the myth of stored food in a vehicle*
In this article I will dispel the myth about carrying food with you in a vehicle for extended periods of time. I have always wanted to carry more "on the go" food with me. I was stifled by an age old opinion I acquired from the days of Misc. Survivalism. Someone stated that "You canít keep any kind of food in a hot car." "It will be ruined in 30 to 60 days." "The heat will kill an MRE in 45 days"
Well I did not buy this, so, it is Facta non Verba time.
I want to be able to keep a 10 day supply of food on board at all times. I would like it to be varied, but in an emergency that would not be important. My likely choices were the nasty cost guard approved bars or freeze dried. Freeze dried is ok but requires pots to cook in, water, heat and time to cook. I have eaten the "survival" bars several times and only the Mainstays were even close to edible. I do still carry both in limited quantities. ("Sure buddy, I have food to share.")
***Note Mainstay bars are vacuum packed and can be punctured easily in a pack. Wrap them in newspaper and heavy plastic prior to long term vehicle storage. ***
I wanted to have two difficult items to myth bust with. First, I chose a pouch of no bean Chili. Meat and tomato sauce, the two evil dreaded mixes sure to cause botulism and death. This pouch was bought at a Big Lots store indicating that it was an overstock item that had been around a while.
I also wanted "normal every day" food.
Next I chose the dreaded MRE. Not just any MRE, but 13 year old chicken and rice entrees purchased from Emergency Essentials. These were still good and I was eating them up for lunch to get rid of them. (The cost each was less than .80 cents each in 1992.) If anything was to fail the test, this should.
I put several of each meal in to a freezer bag, shoved it into a rucksack and dropped it in my black plastic Contico tool box in the rear of my truck. My truck has a sealed camper top (dark brown) and I live in the south. Temperatures in the rear of the truck can easily get over 150 degrees. I loaded them up on Sept 11, 2005. I only pulled the gear box out once to use the full length of the bed. On Oct 21, 2006 I decided to pull my gear out and get ready for winter. I had forgotten about the test until I saw the note I left inside. Oh boy, now I was excited. I got to eat 13 year old food and food that was considered sub standard and baked for over a year. Well sort of excited. I wanted to know if it would be any good, and if I could modify my gear accordingly.
I believe that during most any emergency I will be in close proximity to my vehicles. Work, home, shopping, hunting or over at a friends, where ever I go, my vehicle is with me. Having a well stocked vehicle could be a life saver.
We eat what we store. That means at some point we will have MRE night. We will have canned hotdogs over the open fire. This night was a bit different.
I fed us all on the 13 year old MREís but mine was from my vehicle test. I also cooked up the chili. I kept a pouch of potato flakes in the bag as well so I fired them up as well.
I checked both the chili and MRE pouch for damage before I dropped it in to boiling water to cook. In just 5 minutes we were ready to eat.
I opened the chili pouch first and was surprised that it smelled good. My wife gave it a "Hmmmm" sort of look. She did not volunteer to test the first bite. I did so that I did not "mix" flavor. It tasted fine. Even the meat was the same consistency as others I had eaten before. So farÖÖso good.
After about Ĺ a bowl my family asked if they could try it. They did and made the usual comments about chili in general. Not bad. I could live off it if I had to. Hmmm itís ok.
Next up came the MRE entrées. These had the same consistency as the other 13 year old ones. Smell and flavor were also the same. The taste was also about the same but the rice was a bit more degraded than in the others. The others had been kept in a temperature stable environment for years. The potato flakes came out fine. I did not expect them to be any different.
I ate all items with no ill effects that evening or the next day. The kids kept looking over at me all night expecting something. All was well.
I believe that the new process for items that require no refrigeration and are stored in the new pouches is superior to plain canned goods. Iím sure that the calories are diminished but that will not be a concern for that small amount stored in a vehicle. I will have hot food in me and feel well fed.
Armed with this information I will begin stocking my vehicle with a bit more food and planning on keeping a 10-15 day supply. I will still rotate it out annually and eat it up. After all, I have only test data supporting one year.
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