The nutrient-dense food storage pantry
A few weeks ago, one of my readers sent me a link to an article on Survival Blog, “Let’s Talk About Calories Per Dollar.” I’m a fan of James Rawles’ site, so I was interested in what the author had to say about food storage and calories.
To summarize, the article encourages readers to stock up on high-calorie foods, correctly stating, ” In a post-SHTF scenario [without the benefit of power tools, most water pumps, and gas engine vehicles], the general activity level of the populace will most certainly increase, so most people can expect their current calorie requirement to go well above their BMR (basal metabolic rate).”
She continues, “The true goal of storing food is to be able to provide enough calories to sustain life.”
I agree that a healthy amount of calories per person per day is an important component in food storage but I disagree with so much focus on calories. Looking around at our populace, calorie intake sure doesn’t seem to be much of a problem and we have dozens of food-related maladies as proof.
Again from the article, “Conversely, the items that cost more per calorie are usually those things that you are allowed to eat without consequence on a diet. These would include spinach, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Like we saw above, you can eat a whole 14 ounce can of green beans from the grocery store and only get 70 calories.”
Fewer calories, yes, but what about their important nutrients?
- “Creamy condensed soups usually contain more calories than their ready-to-eat counterparts because you are storing less water in the can. One brand of cream of chicken soup on my pantry shelf has 300 calories per can, which is fantastic.”
- “And, remember the ever-favorite ramen noodles. At our local grocer, you can get a 12-pack of ramen for $2.44. Each individual pack contains 380 calories, giving 4560 calories in the box. So, ramen yields 1,869 cal per dollar spent. Pretty impressive!”
- “Long grain white rice: 50# bag for $16.86. There are 1650 calories per pound which gives 82,500 calories in the bag. So, you get 4893 calories/dollar spent.”
There’s a problem with this method of food storage that focuses primarily on calories: it’s not healthy! Who cares what the calorie count is if the nutrition value is nil? A bag of potato chips is loaded with calories, far more than a huge, delicious salad with lean meats, hard boiled eggs and an olive oil dressing, but it’s the salad that has the best nutritional value, not the chips, in spite of their high calorie count. A hearty chicken soup wins, hands down, over the chips as well.
In fact, the recommendation to stock up on white flour and starchy vegetables is a proven path to diabetes and other ailments.
A few years ago I taught a food storage class and a woman who attended said, “Lisa, the reason so many Americans are overweight is because our food isn’t nutritionally dense. We eat but our bodies aren’t satisfied, so we eat some more.” She had an excellent point, and this is where I believe we can improve our food storage pantries: evaluate our food storage by the nutritional density of each food.
Personally, I have purchased large amounts of freeze-dried, dehydrated, and even canned vegetables and fruit. I have seeds that can be sprouted, providing my family with enormous amounts of micronutrients. We do have wheat and rice, but it’s important to know how to add extra nutrition to those basics (see my recipe for Super Rice as an example).
So how can you best add nutrient dense foods to your pantry?
- Buy coconut oil as well as olive oil for daily cooking and for adding to recipes in order to increase both their calories as well as fat content. These healthy oils are necessary for healthy bodies.
- Stock up on more nutritious versions of grocery store foods, e.g. whole wheat pasta, brown rice.
- Buy quality nutritional supplements* and multivitamins.
- Learn about grains other than wheat, such as spelt and stock up on chia seeds, millet, and flaxseed. These can be added to numerous recipes in order to increase their nutritional value.
- Take a look at the line of foods from Enerhealth Botanicals*. I interviewed one of their executives, Darren Craddock, in a Survival Mom webinar, and he has a wealth of information for improving our diets.
Specifically, learn about Enerhealth Botanicals’ organic Enerfood Super Green Energy Drink. This is a powder that can be added to a drink and includes all organic ingredients, such as spirulina, wheat grass, horsetail (excellent from strong teeth), kelp, spinach, alfalfa, and a lot more. The stuff tastes very, very green, but is a super-charged nutritional that is also high in protein.
I also like Enerhealth’s Coconut Milk Powder, which can be added to juice or a smoothie and is rich in nutrients. Not so high in calories but dense where it counts.
All this isn’t to say that calories aren’t important, but in no way should we be amassing foods that are only high in calories and will provide a diet that will lead to serious nutritional deficiencies. As with everything, find and maintain a balance! That’s a survival lesson that never fails.
*Enerhealth Botanicals is not an advertiser nor an affiliate. I just like their high quality products and recommend them.
© 2012, The Survival Mom. All rights reserved.