I Felt Horrible – Accepting Help When You Need It

I had a humbling experience at the gym that taught me a valuable lesson.  On the second level of our city rec center/gym, there are several rooms surrounded by a track.  Two of the rooms are a cardio room with treadmills, elliptical​s​, ​e​xercycle​s​ and other similar equipment and the weight room with ​a variety of weight machines and free weights. Both of these rooms are enclosed by chain-link fences so it’s easy to see people as they run the track or go to any of the other rooms on that floor.

While in the weight room, I remember seeing a young family walking around as if they had a specific purpose for being there.  They had two young children, both less than five years old.  A few minutes later after I had re-focused on my lifting routine, I was startled by one of their children, a little girl, while I was using the squat machine.

I always wear earphones when working out but seldom listen to music.  It’s usually some podcast of a radio talk show that keeps my mind occupied.  So this little girl came up to me and in a quiet, shy voice asked if I would like a drink of water and then held out a bottle of water.  I was a little surprised by her kind offer and since I wasn’t sure if I had heard her correctly, I just said no thank you and continued with my workout.

When I moved to another piece of equipment, I could see the family again and it all came clear what was transpiring.  These good parents had wanted to give their children the opportunity of experiencing the joy of offering random acts of kindness.  Their game plan was to come to the gym with several bottles of water and give them to those who they thought might appreciate a drink.

All of a sudden, I felt horrible!  This cute little girl had approached me offering this kind gesture and I turned her away.  I felt like a real jerk!  I knew what I needed to do so I quickly left the weight area and walked down the hall to where the family was gathered.  I knelt down in front of the little girl and apologized for not accepting her gift and explained to her I wasn’t sure I had heard her correctly due to my ear phones.

I then asked if she still had that bottle of water because I really would love a drink.  She handed me the bottle and I noticed they had replaced the regular label with a homemade one encouraging me to pay this random act of kindness forward.  I thanked the little girl and apologized again for turning her away and told her what a wonderful thing she was doing with her family.

I smiled at her parents and I could tell how much they appreciated my helping their little girl feel the joy of giving.  I kept that water bottle to remind me of a weakness I have that I need to be far more humble and willing to receive and accept help and aid.

I have always thought of myself as a real self-reliant guy who didn’t need anybody’s help. ​If anything, I always saw myself as the one who would offer help, not receive it. ​ I’ve always felt I could solve most any problem – repair most any broken item and have the strength to comfort those in need of comfort feeling I was not one of the “weaker” ones.  Boy, what a stupid and arrogant way of thinking!  And it took a sweet little girl at the gym to humble me enough to recognize just how foolish I was.

We all go through different phases of our lives where times are good and other times when they’re not so great.  I don’t know of a single soul who couldn’t use some comfort or help at some time in their life.  We all fall into that category.

Part of this valuable lesson I learned was how inappropriate and thoughtless it is when we prevent others from receiving the blessings of service.  When we turn down such offers, we are depriving those sincere souls of the blessings of serving their fellowmen.

​When you take this feeling of superiority and independence to the next level, it can create significant difficulties when there are those who will refuse the council and guidance of others because they feel they know it all.  They don’t need other people offering suggestions or unsolicited council on how they might improve certain aspects of their lives.

Once again, this lack of humility, this attitude of not needing anyone else telling them how to improve their lives can and will create many problems going forward.  Several years ago, I was asked by a friend to go in business with him.  He had a great business idea and was going to offer both a product and service that were both needed and not currently addressed.

As we started putting our business plan together, I began feeling concerned because my new partner was making decisions that had the potential of adversely affecting the profitability and longevity of the company.  The bottom line was he had such a high level of greed, he didn’t want to spend any money to hire specific professionals that were needed to properly launch the company.  He wanted to handle the accounting, legal, R & D and marketing all in house – meaning him and me.

I felt very uncomfortable about not having the skill or required certification to properly handle our accounting and legal needs and my partner’s response was always. “We don’t need to be paying others for what we can do ourselves.”  Problem was, we couldn’t properly do these things ourselves.  We needed professional advice and assistance from legitimate accountants, lawyers, etc.  My partner and I unfortunately could not agree on this issue and ended up parting ways.

As I see it, there are two important acknowledgements we all need to embrace:

●  We don’t have all the answers.
●  It takes humility to ask for and receive the help and answers we need.

Just because I’ve been in the preparedness industry for over 35 years doesn’t mean I can’t still learn from others and their experience.  Being humble and willing to take advice from others does not diminish the knowledge and experience I’ve accumulated.  It’s one of my goals to strive each day to be more open to help and advice from others and show gratitude to those who offer such council and assistance.

If and when things get really dicey, trying to survive on your own is a real recipe for disaster and failure.  You need to surround yourself with like-minded people and learn from each other, being willing to help and be helped.  There is indeed safety in numbers.

So next time someone offers to help you with your groceries, or bring in your garbage can from the street or asks if they can shovel the snow from you walkway, let them help.  Next time someone opens a door for you or pulls out a shopping cart from the stack of carts and gives it to you, thank them sincerely and pay it forward. ​Work with me in trying to be more humble and allow others the blessings of offering service to you.

Understanding Julian Dates

If you’re new to the food storage world, you may be a bit confused about expiration dates and Julian dates, the string of numbers you see on some MREs and  #10 cans. These numbers represent the manufacturer’s Julian dates.  While initially this system can seem confusing, there’s an easy way to decipher these numbers.

The Julian Calendar – Julian dates are based on the Julian calendar which started over 4000 BC. It started by simply qualifying each day as Day 1, Day 2, etc. So, January 1, 4713 BC was Day 1.  January 30 4713 BC was Day 30.

That doesn’t do much for us since we work with the Gregorian calendar now, using days, months, and years. However, many manufacturers, especially MRE and food storage manufacturers depend on Julian dates simply because it’s easier for their computer systems to calculate them.

It’s Like Military Time – Think of it this way, the military uses continuous military time as a 24-hour system so it doesn’t have to differentiate between AM and PM. It takes a bit to get used to military time, but once you do, it’s a very clear way to document time. A Julian date is also a very easy, clear way to document dates. Manufacturers don’t need to use a mix of letters and numbers, work with shorter months/longer months, or adjust to leap year days. It’s simply a number.

Breaking it down – A Julian date is usually a 4 or 5 digit number starting with the last 2 digits of the year the item is made. The last three numbers correlate with the day of the year the product is made.  Here are a couple examples:
Product made January 12, 2018.  Julian Date: 18012.
Product made August 24, 2016.  Julian Date: 16237. (2016 was a leap year.)

If you’d like a Julian cheat sheet, here you go.

Just a reminder- MREs have a 1-5 year shelf-life. The Julian date is NOT the expiration date, but rather the manufacture date. Look at the date and add 1-5 years to figure out when you need to restock.



I Offended Santa – How Do You Plan For the Unknown?

I’m not one for surprises and patience is unfortunately not my strong suite.  I like to know all the details and inside story right now.  It goes back to my youth; I discovered where my mom would hide the Christmas presents and when she would go to the store, I would open my presents to see what I was getting.  There were times that my brother and I not only opened the presents, but would play with the toys and then wrap them back up before my mom got home.  I look back on that now and feel really crumby about it and I’m sure I offended Santa.  Nevertheless, it’s still hard for me to be patient and wait for the answers.

I don’t think I’m alone in wanting answers to my prayers right now.  Surely Heavenly Father knows what I need so why can’t I receive the solution to my problems now?  What’s the purpose of making me wait to get the answers I so desperately want and need?  I wish I knew the answers to those questions but I have learned I need to exercise faith that if I’m doing all I can to solve a problem, if I continue to work and pray and try, eventually things will work out.  They always do.

It may not be in the time frame I would have chosen or even in the manner I thought would have been best, but things will work out.  For those who refuse to give up and are committed to continue to move forward in faith, in spite of not knowing all the answers, I’m convinced those answers will become clear sometime down the road.

I believe this quote from Steve Jobs really makes a lot of sense:​​

 “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”                ~ Steve Jobs

This has been a real challenge for me as it relates to properly preparing for an uncertain future.  Yes, I would love to know when things will get bad enough that we’ll need to rely on our food storage.  Yes, I would love to know what the event or events will be that will trigger this need.  And yes, I’d love to know how long we’ll need to be on our own.  I would venture to guess everyone would want to know this info.  Knowing these details could alleviate so much potential pain and suffering.  It could also help us prepare to provide for those who can’t prepare for themselves.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way things work.  There is no fortune teller who can spell out all the future details of our lives so we can be totally prepared and ready for every potential event we will encounter.  Certainly if there were, there would be no need for faith in our lives, there would be no challenges we weren’t prepared for and there certainly would be no surprises that might catch us off guard.  And as a result, there would be no personal growth that comes from moving forward with faith, not knowing the end of the story before it begins.

If your desire and goal is to provide for your family with food storage and all the non-food items that accompany being properly prepared, then move forward with faith believing things will work out.  Even if you don’t know where to start, do something – anything, especially if you feel promptings you may not be able to explain.

You may not completely understand why you feel a prompting to purchase food storage, or that coil of rope, or extra bottles of hydrogen peroxide, or a case of matches.  You may question yourself when you are led to purchase an axe, or a large tent, or extra warm clothes from the thrift store.  You may wonder why you feel a need to buy extra work gloves, or large brimmed hats, or sewing kits.  But if you do follow through and act on the promptings you receive, the time will come when you’ll be able to connect the dots and understand fully why you received those promptings.

Please don’t let the fact that you don’t have all the answers keep you from moving forward with your preps.  Just because you may not be able to see in your mind why you would ever need emergency food storage, don’t let that keep you from moving forward.  The dots will all eventually connect and our lives will be blessed if we choose to move forward with faith.

The Importance of Protein in Your Food Storage

I was on one of my many health kicks a couple of years ago where I decided to try the vegetarian lifestyle.  I had read many articles about the health benefits of removing meat from one’s diet and added a few YouTube videos to the mix that seemed to confirm this style of eating.  I must admit, it was very hard to keep an open mind as I reviewed much of this info because I felt like I would be joining some type of a cult if I personally embraced the often emotionally presented beliefs of vegetarianism.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be disrespectful to anyone who chooses a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle – more power to them!  It just the feeling I got from much of the material I reviewed that those who choose not to embrace this way of eating are foolish and grossly uninformed.  I’ll be the first to admit, I am grossly uninformed about many things, nevertheless, I feel I have a pretty good idea regarding what my body needs to feel healthy and provide the energy I need to last the day.

So in spite of my reservations, I decided to give it a shot. The first thing that was required was to go shopping for the right kind of food to make this as pain-free as possible.  This included visiting the local health food store and purchasing every kind of “fake meat” I could find.  I was surprised to learn they had what looked like bacon, hamburger patties and hot dogs so I bought them all.

I’m sorry to say, these “meatless” meat products were far less than satisfying and some we just plain nasty.  The true carnivore within would not be fooled by these not-so-cheap imitations.  Honestly, for the most part, I was able to handle a meat free diet if my wife had the time to prepare some delicious entrée.  But, if I was hungry and went to the fridge, I just couldn’t bring myself to choosing to munch on rabbit food rather than something that would stick to my ribs.

One thing I noticed was that I seemed to get hungry more often.  It’s like the meatless food just didn’t have the staying power to keeping me going.  In addition, I started worrying about the level of protein I was consuming.  I know there are many sources of natural protein in plant based foods but my body felt like it was missing some important high octane fuel to provide the energy I was accustomed to.

Unfortunately, like so many of my health goals, this new undertaking didn’t last longer than about 30 days and I decided to throw in the towel.  There were, though, some very valuable lessons learned.  First lesson, don’t waste your money of fake bacon and hotdogs – you’ll be sorely disappointed.  The veggie burgers weren’t half bad though.  At a little higher level, stick with the real thing.  There are many food substitutes in the marketplace designed to fake you into thinking you’re eating healthy when you’re not; fake butter, fake sugar, fake fat, fake meat, fake cheese, fake eggs and the list goes on and on.

The most important lesson I learned – maybe not learned because I always knew it, but was reminded of it – proper nutritional value is made up of many components that need to be correctly balanced for your body to function optimally.  Nutritional value is primarily composed of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, sugars and fiber.  If your overall diet is lacking in any of these areas, over an extended period of time, your system will begin to show potential serious deficiencies.

Since we’ve been discussing meat or the lack thereof, let’s broaden the topic just a little and discuss “protein” as an important part of any food storage plan.  Most food storage companies will attempt to address the need of adequate protein by adding dry beans or TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein made from soy) to their meal plans.  Navy, pinto, chili, black and kidney beans are a great source of protein.  A cup serving of any of these beans will yield about 40 grams of protein.

According to the USDA, an adult should consume at least .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.  Since most of us are not adept with the metric system, here’s the US equivalent.  You should consume about .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  For a 150 lb. woman, that would be 60 grams.  For a 200 lb. man, that would be 80 grams of daily protein.

If all the math seems confusing, remember that most experts recommend consuming about 20–30 percent of your overall calories from protein foods.

Most meats average around 20% protein which is one of the highest forms of protein available and how most Americans get their daily required amount.  Not only is meat the most commonly consumed form of protein, but it’s also usually the center dish of most meals.  What would Thanksgiving be without a turkey or ham?  How about a BBQ without the burgers and hotdogs?  A nice meal at a restaurant without the steak or a piece of fish?  Or a nice Sunday dinner without the roast?  I think you get my drift.  Most of us were raised with meat being the central part of a meal and will find it very trying if that were to suddenly change.

The consequences of not having enough protein in your diet can be severe.  Here are a few to consider:

●  Cataracts
●  Heart problems
●  Kyphosis or muscle atrophy
●  A sluggish metabolism
●  Low energy levels and fatigue
●  Poor concentration and trouble learning
●  Moodiness and mood swings
●  Muscle, bone and joint pain
●  Blood sugar changes that can lead to diabetes
●  Slow wound healing
●  Low immunity

So, how does one accomplish the task of storing enough protein to provide 60 to 80 daily grams of per person to help avoid these maladies?  For those who wish to solve this concern the vegetarian way, beans and legumes store very well and are a great approach.  For those who would like to continue with their current eating habits and get much of their protein by consuming real meat, your options are limited.  Due to the difficult nature of storing meat as the primary source of protein, most choose to ignore this hole in their preps and somehow assume it will all work out – they will be sadly mistaken.

Overlooking this essential part of nutrition and assuming one could naturally and easily convert over to an all plant form of protein can be very problematic. Drastically altering the foods we eat can cause bloating, cramping, dysentery and a feeling of malaise.  The last thing you want to do during an already stressful situation is to add to that stress by not consuming foods you are accustomed to.

If you want to store real meat that has an extended shelf life for off grid scenarios, your only option is freeze-dried meat.  Freeze-dried meat will last up to 25 years and is very easy to prepare and use.  All you need to do is add hot water, let it sit for 10 minutes and you’re good to go.  Remember, freeze-dried meat IS the real thing, not some meat substitute or soy product with potential allergen problems.  Having the proper amount of protein in your diet is not only essential, but will provide the needed familiar “comfort food” in times of stress and need.

Source:  www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietary-guidelines

You’ve Gotta be Kidding!

I came across some very interesting stats regarding Christians that were highlighted in the book, “The Way Back: How Christians Blew Our Credibility and How We Get It Back” by Phil Cooke and Jonathan Bock.

The premise of the book stems from the scripture in Matthew 7:15-20.  Verse 20 sums it up where it states, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

Unfortunately, according to the stats uncovered by Cooke and Bock, we as Christians have a real problem following through with what we say we believe.  Our fruits are indeed lacking.  To be more specific, here are some of the details they discovered – they may shock you.

●  70% to 80% of US population are Christians
●  Only 20% attend church at least 19 times per year
●  37% of the 20% who attend don’t feel prayer is important
●  40% of the 20% who attend rarely or never open the Bible
●  10% of the 20% who attend pay a tithe

These stats are really disappointing to learn.  I had assumed we were doing much better than this in terms of living our religion.  Even on a secular basis, we are constantly being encouraged to step up and act in accordance to our beliefs.  To prove this point, here are a few phrases we’re all familiar with:

●  Practice what you preach
●  Walk your talk
●  Lead by example
●  Don’t just talk about it, be about it
●  Actions speak louder than words
●  Put your money where your mouth is

These are all phrases we’ve heard many times throughout our lives and they usually don’t make us feel very good.  The reason is – we all fall short.  We’re not perfect so we make mistakes and fail to act the way we should, say what we should or accomplish what we should.

Then there’s the conflict between doing what we should versus what we want.  I should eat a more healthy diet but I want the sausage and ribs.  This reminds me of a saying that has stuck with me for decades:  “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what we want most for what we want at the moment.”

We all make thousands of decisions every day, whether consciously or subconsciously.  There’s the smoker who really wants to quit and has great intentions but ends up trading that want for smoking just one more cigarette right now.  The result is failure to quit and the feeling of disgust with oneself and unhappiness with the lack of willpower.

There’s the individual who’s in far too much debt and really wants to pay it off and be debt free but trades that for putting a new flat screen TV he really wants on his credit card.  There’s the couch potato who really wants to get in shape but trades going to the gym for just one more episode on Netflix.  There’s the father that wants to spend more time with his kids but trades it for just a little more time on social media.

We all experience similar trades, often multiple times each day and as a result, we feel worse and worse about ourselves and our resolve to truly accomplish something of lasting value.  I remember a definition of the word “character” that has stuck with me.  “Character – the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the mood in which you made it has left you.”

 One of the ways I can relate to this definition deals with my schooling.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this but many a time, when faced with a looming mid-term or final exam, I would make a deal with myself that rather than spend the time studying on any given evening, I would get up really early the next morning and buckle down and study.  I would convince myself this was a great idea and a sound resolution.  Then when the alarm would go off at 5:00 AM the next morning, I would come up with every excuse in the book why I really didn’t need to get up so early to study.  The mood in which I made my resolution had definitely left and as a result I far too often failed to carry out that good resolution.

I don’t think any of us would disagree that protecting and providing for our families is a very good resolution.  We can all become very passionate about our roles to take care of our families and even put down on paper our specific plans and goals on how to follow through with our objectives.  Having worthwhile intentions is an important starting point.  Moving beyond those intentions can often times be a struggle.

I live in earthquake country and creating a sound plan for my family in the event of an earthquake was indeed very important to me.  It’s funny how I justified putting my plans down on paper was somehow providing a higher level of protection for my family.  It wasn’t until I actually put my plan into action, with my family, that I finally felt that sense of security and peace of mind that my family would be prepared.

As a family, we went into each room and discussed the possible damage that could occur and what we could do now to mitigate such potential damage.  As a family, we went to our natural gas meter and practiced putting the attached wrench on the valve and turned it just a little so everyone could feel what was necessary to turn off the gas.  We went to the outside breaker box and explained how to turn off the power to the house.  We went to the water valve and took turns turning off the water to the house.  We talked to the kids about what to do if we, their parents weren’t home when an earthquake struck.  They were to wait for us inside the camper shell on the back of my pickup so we all got inside to practice.

Over the years, we have continued to review these and many other related issues to be prepared in the event of an earthquake with our now married kids and grand-kids.  The point of all of this is that until I actually trained everyone regarding our plan, all the great ideas and intentions I had were of no real value.

Taking the time to create an emergency preparedness plan for your family is a critical first step.  But just creating the plan will not protect or feed your family in times of need.  Don’t trade what you want most for your family for what you want at the moment.  We must “practice what we preach” and “walk our talk” so the fruits of our beliefs will indeed benefit those we love.

I Called the Police!

I had a conversation with a good friend that I will never forget and I know the experience is forever seared into his brain in a very painful way.  It all started when he fell in love with a beautiful gal; let’s call her Jen (the names have been changed to protect the innocent).  She was everything he had ever hoped for.  He got up the courage and popped the question and to his delight, she said yes.  He wanted to give her the biggest diamond he could afford as a token of just how much she meant to him.  Then just eight years later, things got really ugly.

He was at work when his phone rang.  He saw it was his wife so he answered in his usual loving manner only to hear Jen screaming and crying on the other end of the line.  When he was finally able to get her to calm down just a little, the dreadful story began to unfold.  Jen had been at the mall that morning and happened to walk by a well-known jewelry store.  She noticed a sign in the store entry way offering “free ring cleaning” to anyone who would come into their store and look around.  She hesitated for a moment, looking down at her beautiful diamond and then decided, “Why not?”

The store clerk, a nice gentleman, approached her and asked if he could help her find anything to which she replied she was just looking around but wanted to know how the free ring cleaning worked.  He explained to her it would take only about 10 minutes for the cleaning and there would be absolutely no charge.  After considering the offer for a few more seconds, Jen reluctantly slid the ring off her finger and asked the clerk if the cleaning might hurt the ring in any way.  He assured her it would not – it was a very gentle cleaning process.  As Jen handed her ring to the clerk, he gave it a quick once over and commented on how beautiful the ring was and added some comment about how her husband must love her a lot.

The clerk then disappeared into the back room.  As the minutes passed, Jen started to get nervous, feeling uncomfortable about the fact she just handed her diamond ring over to a stranger who was in the back room doing who knows what to her ring.  After what seemed like much longer than 10 minutes, the clerk reappeared with her ring but had an awkward look on his face.  As he handed the freshly cleaned ring back to Jen, in a hesitating voice he said, “You know that’s not a real diamond, right?”

Jen wasn’t quite sure what to say – she wasn’t sure she had heard the clerk correctly saying, “Excuse me?”  The clerk then repeated that it was a very beautiful ring indeed and how close it was to looking like a real diamond and that only a professional jeweler would ever know in reality it was a Cubic Zirconia.  Jen replied once again, “What do you mean?  My diamond is absolutely real!”

The clerk could see Jen was more than surprised by this revelation and things were starting to get a little tense.  It then all came clear to Jen; this “free ring cleaning” was nothing more than a big scam.  She knew the clerk had gone in the back room, taken her real diamond off her ring and replaced it with a fake one.  Jen began to get very upset, raising her voice insisting the clerk had just stolen her diamond.

The clerk tried his best to calm Jen down and reassure her he never would have done anything as dishonest as switching her diamond.  Jen would have none of it.  She demanded to see his manager and wanted satisfaction immediately.

Unfortunately, the store manager was not able to make any more headway with Jen than the clerk was.  Jen continued to demand the return of her diamond with a voice that was approaching screaming level, adding if they did not comply immediately, she would call the police.

When the clerk and manager were not able to convince Jen they were innocent, Jen followed through with her threat and called the police.  By this time, everyone else in the store knew it was best to leave and within just a few minutes, a police officer came into the store wanting to know what was going on.  By now, Jen was sobbing, not knowing if she would ever see her real diamond again.  This is when she reached out to her husband and called him for help and comfort.

As my friend listened to his wife relate this devastating story, the blood drained from his face and he felt like he would both pass out and throw up at the same time.  You see, he was the guilty party.  He had wanted to purchase a big diamond ring for his bride-to-be but simply couldn’t afford it.  The jeweler where he purchased the ring had suggested he consider a Cubic Zirconia, assuring my friend that no one would ever be able to tell it wasn’t a real diamond, with the added benefit of costing a small fraction of what a real diamond would cost.  My friend made the decision to get the fake diamond and justified not telling his wife with the plan of someday replacing it with the real thing.

Well, that day had arrived in a very unpleasant manner.  My friend didn’t share with me all that went on between him and his wife that evening but I do know that later that week, Jen was sporting a new big “real diamond”, larger than the fake one and my friend acted like a whipped pup around his wife for many weeks to come.

What’s the purpose of this story?  It’s about my concern that most folks don’t have any realistic idea of what they really have by way of food storage or how long their storage will last should they need to rely on it.  Having been in this business for many years, I’ve given hundreds of in-home presentations in an attempt to assist families with their food storage needs.

One of the questions I would always ask was regarding how much food storage they currently had.  This question was often followed up with a quick inventory as we looked at their actual supplies together.  Almost everyone I met with had some level of storage but in every case, the estimate I was given as we sat around the kitchen table was way off base.  On average, I would guess that typically a family would state their food storage would last them three to four times longer than I knew it would.

This is a part of the food storage industry I still struggle with.  What’s the benefit of over-estimating your current storage levels?  Why would one want to rely on the absolute bare essentials when they have the option now to do something about it?  The purpose of storing food isn’t to impress your friends or neighbors.  It’s not so you can check it off some imaginary list and feel better about yourself.  It should be about providing real food for survival for your family and loved ones.  If it’s not the type of food you would want to eat right now, what makes you think your tastes will automatically change in times of stress or emergency?

I fear there will be far too many families that will suffer unnecessarily in times of need due to the lack of attention given to how much food storage they really have and if it’s the type of food their family will want to eat and be able to digest.  Please take the time now to honestly evaluate your current level of storage and build up your preps beyond what you think you will need.  I promise you, when the time comes to use your preps, you will be so very glad you took the time to make sure you knew what you really have.

Knowledge is power.  Knowing what you really have in preps could save your life.

How Long Does an Open Can Last?

One of the questions we get a lot here at Daily Bread is, “How long will my can last once I open it?” Here’s a simple guide to getting the most out of your open can of Daily Bread food.

How long will my food be good? Easy. 6-12 months, depending on the conditions you store them.

Where should I store my open cans? That’s a common follow-up question. The best place to store an open container is in a cool, dark, humidity-controlled place. If your pantry is cool and dark, store it there. It’ll probably last about 6 months in the pantry after you’ve opened it. If you have room in your refrigerator, it’ll last closer to the 12 months. (Just a personal preference, I always store open freeze-dried meat in the refrigerator, just to be safe.)

Will the oxygen absorber help keep the food fresh after it’s been opened? Nope. You can throw that little square away. However, if you keep the lid on the container, it helps keep excess oxygen out of the container, keeping your food fresh longer.

My apples are softer than when I opened the can. Are they good? Oxygen and humidity change the texture of freeze-dried food. That’s why they are stored in a cool, dry place. Opened foods will get softer over time. Chances are, your food is still good if it’s in the 6-12 month window.

How do I know if it’s not good anymore? Freeze-dried food should not have any strong odors and shouldn’t have anything growing on it. If it does, throw it out. If not, and it’s in the safe storage time, it’s probably just fine. Use your judgment, though.

I don’t know if I can use the food that quickly. Yes, you definitely can. Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are simply foods that you use every day, just preserved. An open can of chicken can be used in every single chicken recipe you have. Those green beans? Rehydrate them with some freeze-dried corn and add a little butter and salt. Your family won’t know the difference. Daily Bread food is perfectly convenient for your emergency needs, as well as your daily nutrition.

What other questions do you have about freeze-dried foods?

Ideal Conditions for Food Storage

Starting your emergency food storage can be a daunting endeavor. We get it. Figuring out how much food to store can be overwhelming. Not to mention, what kinds of food do you want to store? What kinds should you store? Even more so, when you get that food home, where are you going to put it? Are there ideal conditions for food storage?

We’re going to help answer all of those questions today and we’re always here to answer any other questions that you might have.

So, first, are there ideal storage locations for food storage? The short answer is, yes. Freeze-dried food has a potential of up to 30 years of shelf life and dehydrated food will stay good for up to 20 years if stored correctly.

Ideal storage for food storage includes:

– Under 65 degrees Fahrenheit (Actually, the cooler the better without reaching freezing)
– Consistent temperatures. The more the temperature varies, the worse it is for the food
– In a room that has no direct sunlight
– In a room with low humidity

In other words, your perfect storage area would probably be a cold storage room in a basement.

You don’t have a cold storage room? Don’t stress. People store their food storage in less-than-perfect conditions all the time. You just have to be more creative. Here are some ideas that customers have shared with us.

Under the stairs – We have one resourceful customer who didn’t have a good place to store her food storage. She was looking at her house and realized that she had wasted, open space under her stairs. She cut out a rectangle in the wall, insulated the space, put in a door, and filled it with her food storage. She chose the area because it was not against an outside wall so it wouldn’t get too hot in the summer. But really, she chose the space because it was her only real option.

Under beds- Many people don’t have any extra room to pile their cans and water containers. That’s when they get creative. Daily Bread customers have found great ways to find that space in places like under beds, linen closets, and other nooks inside their houses. Look around to see where you can hide/store your cans in plain sight. You might be surprised. Your food storage doesn’t need to be clumped together. In fact, it might be good to have it spread on different levels of the house.

Pantry- Our favorite way to store food is to simply use the pantry. A rotating food storage system lets you use your food storage throughout the year, never letting it near its expiration date. An open can stays good for 6-12 months, so you can keep it in your pantry and go to it for your favorite recipes. Simply rehydrate and add it in.

Things to avoid when storing food:

– Great temperature variations. Places like your attic and your garage may be your only option. Just be aware that these areas can fluctuate in temperature greatly, compromising the shelf-life of your food.

– Areas against outside walls. While you may not feel the temperature variation, outside walls can absorb quite a bit of heat. Be careful when storing there.

Most of us don’t have perfect conditions for food storage. That’s okay. Like most things, you can adapt. With a little bit of creativity, you can make an ideal-for-you food storage system.

We’d love to hear from you. Where have you found to store your emergency food? Let us know in the comments below

No! Say it’s Not So!

My day started out just great – the sun was shining, the temperature’s warming up and spring is right around the corner.  The fact that it’s Friday (who doesn’t love Fridays) and anticipating a date night with my wife, it was just the kind of day I’d like to repeat every day.  Then out of the blue, it all got ugly.  I made the fatal error of reading the news.  Most of it was the same old, same old but one article jumped right out at me and slapped me in the face; “Study: Bacon Linked To Causing Cancer.”

My first thought was I must have misread the headline.  It probably meant to say “Banking” was linked to cancer.  I could live with that headline, I mean who likes standing in line at the bank? But BACON? Seriously?​

Here’s part of the article that wrecked my day:

“Researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer say that bacon acts as a bit of a double whammy in that it is both a red meat and a processed meat.”

“In a question-and-answer session, a committee of scientists from The World Health Organization explained how exactly red and processed meats are carcinogens.”

“According to the most recent estimates by the Global Burden of Disease Project, an independent academic research organization, about 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are attributable to diets high in processed meat,” scientists said, adding that “diets high in red meat could be responsible for 50,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide”.

​Now my mind immediately started doing something I really don’t appreciate at times.​  My brain began to spew logic into my conciseness.  When it comes to bacon, I had learned over the years how to suppress the logic that such fatty, processed, red meat is surely not on the top of the list of health foods.  It really was quite easy, you see the flavor of perfectly cooked slices of bacon with hash browns and eggs over easy, or one of my specialties, a delicious BLT made with eight slices of bacon, thick slices of garden fresh tomatoes, lettuce and a nice layer of Miracle Whip on toasted old fashion white bread (my mouth is watering as I type this) simply do the trick.  The pleasures to the palette have always overridden that pesky logic part of my brain and I can’t say I regret it.

​Now I’m sure I’m not alone.  I’m sure most of us have a few guilty pleasures when it comes to food.  Whether it’s about sugars, fats or carbs, over time our bodies are taught to crave these flavors, thus the multi-billion dollar fast food industry.  So why is this important to discuss?

Both hunger pangs and food cravings are extremely powerful stimuli on the human body.  I recently read a book about an escapee from a North Korean labor camp (Escape from Camp 14).  His story was quite unique in that he was born in the labor camp – he never knew any other life.  In spite of daily being fed only a very meager amount of food, just barely enough to survive, not ever knowing anything different, still each day his hunger pangs drove him to do things unspeakable for just a little more to eat.  One might think experiencing the same diet every day, he might have grown accustomed to survival rations – not so.  Those hunger pangs never left him.  In fact, it was the stories of roasted meat told him by an older prisoner that almost drove him to insanity and created such strong cravings, it led him to risk his life in planning and executing his escape.

I remember trying to lose weight in high school.  I was a wrestler in the 155 lb. class.  I needed to lose five pounds so I just fasted – ate nothing.  I seriously thought I would die.  I even began hallucinating about finding rotten apple cores in the gutter and devouring them.  That was the worst, and it didn’t help that I wasn’t that great of a wrestler.  I don’t think any of us enjoy the pangs of hunger and many of us wish we could turn those cravings down just a little – I think you know what I mean.  I was quite envious of my college anatomy professor who was in an automobile accident where his injury included severing his vagus nerve.  As a result, he never felt hunger or satiation.  And yes, he was a very slim man.  Is there an operation one can have?

Hunger will change human behavior quicker than just about anything.  It can turn honest, law abiding people into desperate monsters.  There have been far too many stories over the centuries where good people have resorted to terrible acts to feed their families.

In 1906, Alfred Henry Lewis stated, “There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.” Since then, his observation has been echoed by people as disparate as Robert Heinlein and Leon Trotsky. The key here is that, unlike all other commodities, food is the one essential that cannot be postponed.​

As adults, we may feel we can tough it out for a few days if necessary, but what about our kids?  If you have children who are crying and pleading for something to eat, what would you do?  Just how far would you go to prevent your family from starving?  I sincerely hope none of us are ever put in such a terrible predicament.  Fortunately, each of us can take action today to insure we never have to make such terrible decisions.  Please don’t let procrastination put your family in jeopardy.  Take action now to insure the well-being of your loved ones.




Storing Rainwater – Your Guide to a Safe Water Supply

Water is, of course, one of the most important resources to have in your emergency supplies. Traditionally, people tend to store tap water. However, many of you may want to use the natural resources you have. One of those natural resources is rainwater. Is rainwater safe to store? If so, what is the best way to gather and store it?

Rainwater Collection
Rainwater is generally safe to drink. After all, that’s where all of our water supply originates. Granted, the water that most of us use is generally filtered and treated. However, there are some things to consider when gathering rainwater.
Legality. Some areas (especially places with farming irrigation systems nearby) have laws against rainwater collection. Look for those laws and learn how to work with them, if necessary.
Areas to Avoid. Rainwater has to pass through layers of atmosphere before it hits the ground. If you live close to any radioactive sites, power plants, or other pollution-emitting facilities, you probably don’t want to collect water. It has the risk of adhering to air particulates that you probably don’t want to ingest.
Direct Collection. If you do choose to collect rainwater, the best way to do it is directly from a bucket or other wide-mouth container.You may be tempted to expedite the process by cleaning your downspout and collecting all the rain from there, but due to bacteria and other germs that can grow on your roof and downspout, that is not a safe idea.

Once your rainwater has been gathered, you want to make sure it’s clean before you store it. Make sure that the bucket you’ve used hasn’t gathered bird droppings, bugs, or other debris.
After collection, let the water sit for an hour or so. This will allow any larger particles that have fallen with the rain to settle at the bottom. You may also want to pass the water through a simple filter, like a coffee filter as you pour it into storage containers. To be sure there are no contaminants, you may want to look into stronger water filters that eliminate protozoa and other harmful bacteria.

Once your water is collected and placed in storage containers, you need to make sure the water stays safe.
BPA-Free Plastic. Make sure your containers are BPA-free plastic containers. If the container isn’t BPA free, you risk carcinogenic particles seeping into your water. Most containers made after 2008 and sold in the US are BPA free. However, you should always look for BPA free labels on your containers. If your container was purchased before 2008, it is probably not BPA free and should not be used.
Treatment. Water never goes bad. In fact, if you think about it, we have the same water that was on the earth when it was formed. It’s lived through millions of years of water cycles. However, even clean water needs to be protected against bacteria that can grow in it. The best way to protect water is to use a water preserver. A Sodium Hypochlorite solution with about 5.25% potency is a proven way to safely protect water. Use about 8 drops of the solution per gallon of water.
Storage Location. Store in a cool, dry place with minimal light. Light and heat cause bacterial growth. Since rainwater is never treated, it has a higher chance of bacterial growth. Even treated water will grow bacteria eventually. If you have a basement storage room, this is the ideal place for your water storage. You can store treated water in a cool, dark room for up to 5 years. Remember to check for bacterial growth every few months, even if your water is stored in an ideal climate.
Of course, you may not have an ideal water storage situation. That’s okay. It just means that you need to rotate it regularly. Use your stored rainwater to water your plants once a year, then regather rainwater during the next rainy days.

Collecting rainwater is one of the many ways you can be proactive with your preparedness goals. If you do so correctly, it can be a safe, efficient way of storing water. We’d love to hear your tips and ideas. If you’ve collected and stored rainwater, what advice do you have?