Sunday, June 2, 2013

Carefully Considering our Freeze Dried Foods

Augason Farms has been in business for fifty years.

   Thankfully, there are an abundance of companies who are now selling long lasting freeze dried food designed to be used in short term and long term emergencies or challenges.  However, when purchasing some for emergency use or for long term storage, it's really important to consider the present needs of your family, and to try to anticipate some of the future ones.
              Freeze dried food, company to company is not the same.  Although some of us find a company we like and with whom we can both recall and agree with their shipping charges, we might be better off buying a core of items from one company, and then other items we may need from another.

               I tend to buy Augason Farms freeze dried food here for long term storage.  I like the  easy use website with quick navigation, and I can order something quite quickly.   It can take a week or so to arrive, but when it does, they often call to see that we are satisfied with the product.  They run good specials, and always have dented cans on sale.  They indicate that their dented cans, so long as not dented along the seam, should still be fine. I have only ever received one can dented in transit, and we used that one first, and it was fine.   Sam's Club's website  has started selling a limited line of Augason Farms food, often in multiple packages at a savings, for less postage (because it's already sitting at a Wal-Mart distribution center near you.)    Augasons is good value for a good price, but it does require that you learn a little something about combining such foods into palatable meals.  I don't mind this, and I also like the ability to combine some things with others, and be creative myself.  (As opposed to some other companies where the entire line is add water and your meals are ready.)   Augason Farms also sells the #10 cans of which I, with a large family am so fond, but they also sell an "everyday" sized can for smaller families or couples.  This makes using their line possible for everyone.   I stock up on fruits and vegetables primarily. I do have some of the baking supplies, rice, flour, and other things, but I purchase fewer of the meat and pre-made meals than do most people, simply because we live on a farm and can provide certain things in a pinch.  They also list nutritional content including sodium not only on each label, but on the website.  There is also a recipe section for each food which helps novices especially in how they might use some of these foods.  This was especially helpful to me in the beginning, who had never cooked with dehydrated foods before, and who wanted some skill in this, before an emergency where we were heavily dependent upon this food.  They also have a gluten free line, which is a godsend to those who are truly gluten intolerant, and who also need to prepare. Augason Farms has been in this business for 50 years, and many of their products last packaged, for 25 years. There is a chart on the website which discusses the shelf life of each product.  I like Augason's very much, but I notice as of this date that they do not sell freeze dried cabbage or freeze dried salmon or tuna, which are two items I would like to have.They also have a blended cheese powder, but no freeze dried grated cheddar, monterey jack, or mozzarella.

            Freeze Dry Guy is a veteran owned company.  They have been in business for 42 years.  They not only sell an interesting line, but they also sell something they call "Bug Out Buckets" which are packets designed for families or campers who may need to flee and take their food with them. They have a broad range of supplies, including freeze dried cottage cheese.  Of note, they have starting selling a low sodium line which is very important for many people.  Many people, especially those with a history of congestive heart failure. hypertension, hypothyroidism, and some kidney disorders, could easy get into trouble medically when making the switch from conventional foods to an emergency situation in which they received most or all of their food from canned or dehydrated means. Please take a look at their line. They even have a line of dehydrated for long term storage pet foods which could be especially helpful in an evacuation situation. Please visit their blog. There is an especially good section on the importance of low sodium foods with an eye to emergency planning.

             Those who reside in Canada are now lucky enough to have a company called Briden Solutions.  They not only have a website which takes Canadians through all the aspects of preparation, but they sell freeze dried food sold under the name Thrive, from Shelf Reliance. This benefits Canadians immensely because prior to this, Canadians were buying from US companies and having to hassle with conversion rates, extra postage, and the dreaded customs !  Please take a look.


Emergency Essentials has freeze dried food items you won't find elsewhere.


              I also buy supplies of a number of kinds from Emergency Essentials.  They have a lot of unusual things I can't get anywhere else. They stock freeze dried salmon for a limited time only. They stock low cinnamon almond granola etc.  Like Augason's, they sell #10 cans, and also super pails of some of the things you need in large quantities. I am fond of their seasonings, spices and particularly their sprout kits.  I have given their sprouting seeds kit with sprouting lid as a gift for family members several times.  They also have a freeze dried yogurt combo that I haven't seen anywhere else. Like most companies, they run regular specials, although sometimes, their specials run as much as 58% off the normal price.  They are presently running an inventory reduction sale.  Once, when I bought a lot of items on sale, I waited weeks for them.  However, I tend to buy things I need for the future and so this was not a particular hardship for me.

             I have also purchased emergency items and freeze dried food from Nitro-Pak Preparedness Center. They have a low price guarantee, and a number of unusual items. Of course they sell 50,000 items and so in terms of food products and preparedness gear, they are likely to have a suggestion for items you might need.
They are a great source for freeze dried ice cream, which is not bad at all.  They sell items as diverse as Kathmandu Curry freeze dried, along with packets of Beef and Broccoli stir-fry.   They are your source for #10 cans of freeze dried peaches, and freeze dried asparagus.   They have freeze dried mozzarella cheese and freeze dried pears.

           There are many other excellent suppliers of emergency food.  Make sure that you sample a few things from several companies, and make some decisions about your families needs and special preferences before you invest a large sum of money in your supplies. If  you have elderly relatives,l for example, give some thought to what types of food they can chew, even when reconstituted.  Stocking freeze dried granola with blueberries might not be ideal for an elderly person from a chewing, or from a choking standpoint, for example.  

           The great benefit to freeze dried food is that it allows families, even large families to relatively inexpensively to stock large amounts of food in a relatively small space. It also allows people to purchase food in a low inflationary period of time, and conceivably hold onto it for as many as 25 or even 30 years depending upon product. Of course rotation and consumption of the oldest supplies always makes sense.  Many of these foods are quite good when reconstituted with water as directed.   A few of them, like the granola in different forms and flavors, and the freeze dried strawberries, and even the freeze dried green beans or corn, are incredibly good snacks.  It also allows families to keep food in relatively large containers safely.  Once opened, the #10 large family sized can should be consumed within one year.  Keeping them for as many as 20-25 years is certainly possible with very little impact if any, to their nutritional value. There is only one item we have not consumed before it spoiled after opening.  We don't use a great deal of chili, other than in chili soup (we mix half chili reconstituted with about the same amount of tomato soup and serve with French bread.)  We were not able to consume the chili fast enough after opening, and some was thrown away.  Again, everyone should try either smaller sized versions or the big cans.  You should know whether you like dehydrated then reconstituted cauliflower with freeze dried reconstituted cheese sauce or not.

             I try to budget one hundred dollars a month for freeze dried food, and then we consume a certain amount of it monthly in order to see which items we like, and which ones are spiced in a manner we don't like or have a strange texture.  Although some websites would push you to acquire all your food supplies quickly, there are still good reasons to sample items and proceed intelligently.  If you need gluten free then Augason Farm's gluten free line is your best choice, but the rest of us need to pay attention to personal preferences also.  For one thing......I don't like Kathmandu Curry at all, but then, there are lots of people who do !


BBC said...

I don't have any freeze dried foods, I live next to a national park I can hide in and eat off of and I don't think anyone makes freeze dried beer anyway.

I don't think you need to be too concerned, the real problems are 20/30 years down the road so it's your kids and grandkids that should be ready to deal with things.

JaneofVirginia said...

BBC, Perhaps freeze dried beer is your marketing opportunity !
I think that tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, flooding and all manner of disasters happen all the time and they could certainly happen where I am. We've already had a 5.8 earthquake, wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes here. I don't know when a financial collapse is coming, but if the federal government doesn't stop borrowing and doesn't stop wasting our money, then I suspect a collapse will come long before 20-30 years.

BBC said...

Money doesn't mean much to me, you are welcome to the opportunity.

JaneofVirginia said...

I am afraid that I have always made the choices that were best for family, and not the choices which were necessarily wise monetarily. Money apparently, doesn't mean too much to me either. Maybe you could sell your idea to someone. Then you could do whatever you wanted with the proceeds, including charity.

Linda said...

I have never read a comparison of companies before this. Thanks. I have also never had any freeze dried food. What does sodium have to do with hypothyroidism?

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks for your post, Linda. In hypothyroidism, all body organs and systems are working more slowly than would be ideal. Even when thyroid hormone is replaced, generally only ONE of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland is replaced in tablet form, and it's marketed as Synthroid (and of course, some generics). There is a second hormone that is only rarely replaced, named Liothyronine. I take both of these as a few endocrinologists will order both. Even when an endocrinologist is ordering as much of both T3 and T4 replacements, this is still not as effective as a working thyroid gland. Most patients despite treatment remain hypothyroid to some degree. A hypothyroid person does not clear fluid from their brain, soft tissue, or anywhere else as efficiently as we might hope. The result is slight edema sometimes of the face, the hands, the feet, legs, etc. Their kidneys may not work at the speed that is desirable. In addition, hypothyroid patients may not manage potassium and sodium as well as they should, and this too can produce edema. Since edema is a frequent challenge for those with hypothyroidism, sodium can exacerbate this. It therefore makes sense to get some sodium guidelines from your physician in order to prevent fluid retention which can lead to headaches, hypertension, and exacerbations of carpal tunnel syndrome. Canned foods and some dehydrated foods have generous amounts of sodium which may not be desirable for many patients.

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