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The food that could last 2,000 years

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200330-which-foods-are-best-to-eat-after-the-apocalypse

bbc.com

The food that could last 2,000 years
Should the human population disappear tomorrow, what might future archaeologists find of the food we eat? And, most importantly, would any of it still be edible?

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Understanding how long food lasts

Understanding how long food lasts

Should humanity face a nuclear apocalypse of worldwide war, we need to understand which foods might be safe for survivors to eat, and how long the foods will last.

To understand this, we need to ask what makes food spoil.

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Why foods go bad

Most foods spoil because of the growth of microbes. Preserving food is an attempt to limit microbial growth. Food can be preserved by drying, salting, chilling, or storing in air-tight containers.

  • Drying is the most effective because microbial growth is inhibited.
  • Salting is effective because it removes moisture, creating an environment where microbes cannot survive.
  • Sugar coating can prevent bacterial cells from functioning correctly.
  • Storing in air-tight containers is less effective because there are probably a lot of microbes on the food before you put it in the container. Some microbes are anaerobic, meaning they don't need oxygen.

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Food preservatives

Preservatives are used in foods to extend their shelf lives. One of McDonald's Big Mac in Iceland is an example of a long-lasting processed food. It has been on display since 2009, in a glass box. Preservatives that has been discontinued by McDonald's are:

  • calcium propionate that prevents mold growth on bread.
  • sorbic acid that also inhibits mold from cheese
  • sodium benzoate, which inhibits the growth of bacteria in the Big Mac special sauce.

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Potential foods

  • Twinkies will last no longer than similar treats. One Twinkie has been kept in a time capsule for up to 44 years.
  • Honey is almost impossible to spoil because it is high in sugar and low in water. Some honey samples are 3,000 years old.
  • Very fat-rich foods like butter and cheese, tallow or oils can last for a long time. Bog butter, a highly fermented butter, is up to 4,000 years old.
  • The world's oldest champagnes, 200-year-old bottles of Clicquot, was perfectly palatable.
  • Ancient frozen flesh may look perfectly edible but quickly becomes putrid after defrosting.
  • Fish is even worse at surviving the freezing process. Meat tends to have all kinds of microorganisms, which makes it unsuitable for long periods of storage.

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Apocalypse foods

  • Unless a nuclear or chemical incident has contaminated the food, all foods that are not in the fresh aisle can be eaten with confidence. That is tinned or dried foods and even frozen foods. Vacuum packed would also be useful.
  • Slow-dried food could still harbor microbes. Spray-dried or freeze-dried foods, like instant coffee grounds and fine powders, will last longer.
  • Food designed for space travel could be right. Space food is dehydrated and vacuum-sealed.
  • General-purpose army rations are good for three years at 80F (27C).
  • Other food replacements to consider are Huel. Huel is a company that offers a complete diet in powder form, uses freeze-drying and milling to create powders with no moisture in them.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Processed Food in History

The need for food preservation has historically led the Ancient humans to develop techniques to process food.

From learning to control fire to grinding grains, our ancestors have been able to...

Evolution: Shaping Up Humans

Processed food has aided the evolution of Homo Sapiens: As food became easy to eat and digest, our jaws and teeth became less powerful and smaller.

The shape of our brains and even the development of language resulted partially from our eating habits in our evolutionary path.

Changes in DNA

Processed food has changed our DNA and the way we look. 

The current crop of super processed foods is altering our insulin resistance, teeth, metabolism, brain chemistry, and internal organs.

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Pasteurization

Pasteurization
  • It is the process of applying low heat to kill pathogens and extend shelf life of food and beverage products.
  • The process does not eliminate bacterial spor...

The Process of Pasteurization

  • The process is dependent on the nature of the product and whether it is packaged or not.
  • Liquids and products packaged in plastic and metal containers can be pasteurized either through steam or hot water.
  • Packaged food in glass containers can be pasteurized too by using hot water with the consideration of the glass's breaking point.
  • The temperature and duration of the process of pasteurization are delicately controlled.

The Discovery of Pasteurization

  • In 1864, Louis Pasteur developed the technique to heat wine before aging it to kill microbes and reduce its acidity. Hence, the name pasteurization.
  • However, the process itself has been around way before Louis Pasteur. It was popularly used in China to preserve wine in 1117AD.
  • The main reason why it is named in his honor is due to his research that pointed towards microorganisms as the culprit for spoilage and disease that led to the Germ Theory of Disease.

There is no "best diet"

The “best” diet is a theme: an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and plain water for thirst. 

That can be with or without seafood; with or...

Best foods don’t have labels

Because they are just one ingredient: avocado, lentils, blueberries, broccoli, almonds, etc.

The "Age" of vegetables

The best vegetables are likely to be fresh and locally sourced, but flash frozen is nearly as good (as freezing delays aging). Those “fresh” vegetables that spend a long time in storage or transit are probably the least nutritious.