Letter Re: Food Storage in the Southern United States

Thursday, Jan 24, 2013

Hello,
I am searching for the answer to a question I am sure has been answered, but I have not been able to locate.  I live in Georgia and have been stocking up on foods.  I have very limited storage space in the house and have started to consider the need to move food stores out to the garage or up into the attic (I have no basement).  Our summers are extremely hot.  Many foods cannot be left in the extreme heat, and I am sure people in colder climates face the inverse problem.
 
It is not yet a issue for me, but it is likely to be a bigger issue for almost everyone if the power goes out long term.  In a scenario without climate control, how does this change the types of food we stock up on?  Is a can of beans and a bag of rice good until expiration when kept in 100% humidity and 95 degree heat for months?
 
Thanks, - Gary S.

JWR Replies: Food storage lives do drop off dramatically, with higher temperatures. The following chart was developed by Natick Labs, summarizing the shelf life of the U.S. Military "Meal Ready to Eat" (MRE) rations. SurvivalBlog reader "Mr. Tango" (BTW, don't miss reading his fascinating profile) had a round of correspondence with the U.S. Army's Natick Laboratories in Massachusetts, on the potential storage life of MREs. The data that they sent him was surprising! Here is the gist of it:

Degrees, Fahrenheit Months of Storage (Years)
120 1 month
110 5 months
100 22 months (1.8 years)
90 55 months  (4.6 years)
80 76 months  (6.3 years)
70 100 months  (8.3 years)
60 130 months  (10.8 years) -- See Note 3, below

Note 1: Figures above are based on date of pack, rather than inspection date.

Note 2: MREs near the end of their shelf life are considered safe to eat if:
   A.) They are palatable to the taste.
   B.) They do not show any signs of spoilage (such as swelled pouches.)
   C.) They have been stored at moderate temperatures. (70 degrees F or below.)

Note 3: Not enough data has yet been collected on storage below 60 degrees F. However projections are that the 130 month figure will be extended.

Note 4: Time and temperature have a cumulative effect. For example: storage at 100 degrees F for 11 months and then moved to 70 degrees F, you would lose one half of the 70 F storage life.

Note 5: Avoid fluctuating temperatures in and out of freezing level.

Perhaps some SurvivalBlog readers have some suggestions. Other than digging a cold cellar, constructing a spring house, or building a large scale evaporative cooler, not much immediately comes to mind.


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