Apr 20 2013

Oxidation, wastage and rotation of foods in storage.

Oxidation is when things combine with oxygen on a chemical level. Rust on your car is oxidation and so is the brown layer that forms on your avocado almost as fast as rust on your car. On a chemical level, the oxidizing substance is loosing electrons (reduction) so it’s loosing integrity at the atomic level. Some highly fascinating visible aspects of this is vegetables breaking down under heat or acidity so the succulent aspect dissolve and leave fibrous matrices behind (delignification) and other utterly useless comparisons to electrochemistry. Except for useless examples like what happens when moisture comes into contact with metal canned food. It starts to oxidize the can and then the can integrity might be compromised and then you are flirting with lady Botulism and she’s a jealous gal.

Those of you living by oceans will have problems with oxidation because there’s salt in the air, literally in the air and when it precipitates out by condensation or rain or whatever. This is corrosive to cans (metals) the electrons start a merry little parade. And if the cans themselves happen to be sitting in water, what we now have is an electrolyte which really speeds things up. Our little parade of migrating electrons has become a stampede because what we have going now is more like a battery. Rusty cans are dubious.

This naturally introduces wastage which is food you let spoil instead of eating it before it did. This is a major threat to long term food storage. You might have a basement full of cans in your summer house but do you know it’s actually EDIBLE? Or do you just assume it will be fine?

For this reason, product rotation is crucial. The term of craft is FIFO, Fist In First Out. In other words, when you reach for a can of peas, make sure it’s the oldest can on the shelf. Most commercially canned products have dates lazer-written into the bottom of the can but the old and true technique is labeling everything with an indelible marker, label the date and the contents of the can. And don’t write on the can label, you write it on the can itself. Those labels fall off with moisture in storage. Yup, that dang moisture thing again. But this presumes that you are actually USING your precious long term stored food! EEEEEEEEEEEK! Well settle down, it’s exactly what I’m telling you to do.

Yup, except for the fancy freeze dried stuff, I recommend people not make distinction between their stored food and their table food. Buy in bulk, buy quality for cheap and start eating it. When is a better time to start saving money and eating healthier? Pretty much any time but today for many of us and I know why. It involves that horrible and repulsive concept of lifestyle change. See once you start buying in bulk and not eating it, you can just put the spoilage dates on your calendar and use this as a handy guide for how many garbage bags you will be using. It makes a great new twist on old kids chores because now not only do they know when they’ll be taking out the trash, they’ll know what they’ll be throwing away in advance. Start buying, start eating.

I had a guy tell me “well I’ll eat the foods I enjoy now and when TSHTF I’ll get used to eating my stored food”. I wished I had a spare jackass award on me (I need mine as a credential). “Let me get this straight” I said, warming up for a kill, “you want to overspend on food now so you can eat sub-par food when you really need it?” The guy said “yeah”. Well ok then. I guess people have some idea of “we’ll all be screwed together” but all I heard this guy saying is “I’d rather hurry up and starve”. Like TEOTWAWKI is gonna be like summer camp, tough it out for two weeks and enjoy the pictures for a lifetime? I don’t know how to break it to the general public that surviving isn’t going to look like The Swiss Family Robinson. Me personally, my internal dictionary has getting screwed and starving under “things to avoid”. Somehow the whole romance of the notion was left behind in my pubescence.