Saturday, January 14, 2012

Delicious Survival Food Bars

Have you ever tasted survival food bars? Now that the devastating quake in Japan has very decidedly fallen off front page news (possibly since the depressing news is that Japan is probably irradiated stem to stern), the topic of emergency preparedness is as tasty as stale bread -- But it doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared.

Previously I had written about Emergency Preparedness Kits, such as the ones from The Red Cross. Depending on where you get them, kits may come WITHOUT food or water.

The Red Cross ones come with a huge collapsible plastic container for water, but it's carried separately from the backpack, and not really that portable or convenient. Also, the plastic smell leeches into the water and makes it stale, so refreshing the water periodically is important.

You can get both food and water separately, and in surprisingly compact 3-day supply amounts. And if you are in British Columbia, Canada, offers free shipping with a $60+ order.

12 packs of Emergency Water costs $5.50. The estimate is that you will drink 2 packs a day, so 12 packs works out to 3 days for 2 persons. Each pack occupies about the same volume as a standard paperback novel, just twice the surface area and half the thickness.
  • 5 year Shelf Life
  • Withstands Temperatures of -40° C to 110° C
  • Drink 2 packets per day
  • Packets are purified, sterilized and sealed in airtight pouches to prevent bacteria growth.
  • Meets and exceed US Coast Guard Standards
  • Made in USA

There are two types of food options. The most common type is no-preparation-required no-water-required survival food bars.
  • 5 year Shelf Life
  • Non Thirst Provoking Formula
  • Withstands Temperatures of -40° C to 149° C
  • 3 - 4.5 days food supply (eat 2-3 squares per day)
  • Ready to Eat (9) 400 calories meals (3600 calories total)
  • Meets and exceed US Coast Guard Standards
  • Made in USA

The Mainstay brand comes in a vacuum sealed metallic pouch about half the size of a 500-sheet ream of printer paper. While vacuum sealed, it is a very solid block that is so hard and inflexible it might make you wonder how you're going to bite into it. But once the seal is broken, the block is easily snapped into portions, and the monotone yellow food bar is somewhat crumbly and grainy.
As food, there is enough of a lemony taste to make it pleasant but not sour. It is sweet enough to count as a dessert but not overly so. It is surprisingly moist and true to the advertising, does not make you want water after. Overall, I was expecting a sober taste experience, but it is actually tasty, like a dessert or sweet biscuit.
Typically you eat 3 squares per day, so a pouch of nine portions ($9) works out to a three day supply. There are 3600-calorie (400 per square) and 2400-calorie versions. There's nothing stopping you from eating just half a portion, though. And don't expect it to be filling or anything.

There's not that much to choose from in terms of survival bar formulation, so it's hard to really be critical about it -- beggars can't be choosers, after all. However, inside the pouch, it's a single solid block rather than individually packed portions, so once opened, you have to keep it protected. It is pre-scored so you can roughly break it off into squares and it does break off quite well, but there's no guarantee of it, and if you're rough with it, you could potentially end up with a bag of large chunks and crumbs. Even breaking it off or cutting it tends to make it snap off instead.

Another even more compact and concentrated option is a type of "space food" developed in the '60s. This is a big plastic jar of pills -- yes, pills -- that give you enough proper nutrition each day if you take about 12 of these "survival tabs" a day (20 calories per tab). Again, don't bother with that filling feeling: We're going for the bare bones of survival here.
  • Serving 12 tabs/meal (240 cal.) or per day.
  • Gluten Free
  • Nutrient Dense Food Concentrate. High in Vitamins, Vegetable Blend Base.
  • 15 day supply/bottle at 240 cal/day. 5 day supply at 720 cal/day.
  • Highly Nutritious. Packed for long term -- 10 year shelf life unopened! Up to 1 year shelf life opened.
  • Avoid temperatures 120 degrees F. & up. Store cool, dry and dark, if possible. 60 degrees F. is optimal.

As for radiation... So far we don't have nuclear power in BC, but if you're reading this in a country that does, and god forbid you end up in a Japan situation, you may want to consider apple pectin, which can reduce radiation levels. If you have to get it through eating apples, that's like 10 apples A DAY though.

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