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The food that could last 2,000 years

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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The food that could last 2,000 years

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

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Key Ideas

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Stay Hydrated

Do:

  • Keep in mind that the usual recommendation is eight glasses per day of fluid.
  • Set regular reminders to ensure we are hydrating our bodies.
  • You ...

GO Foods

GO foods give us the energy to be active, work, and fight diseases.
From this category: rice, pasta, bread, and root crops. They release energy more slowly, fuelling you for longer and helping to maintain your weight.

GROW Foods

Grow foods help our body with physical growth and help the body rebuild after diseases and infections.
From this category: meat, fish, eggs, milk and other dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. They are often required in small amounts but are essential to be consumed daily.

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Meat from labs

Meat might have finally met its match. Some meat is now being cultured and grown into slabs that mimic meat.

It currently goes by names such as in-vitro meat, cultured meat, lab-grown mea...

Labeling lab-grown meat

  • In 1869, margarine was invented as a butter replacement. The dairy farmers raised the alarm in the United States; They convinced the U.S. Government to tax margarine and lobbied against the use of yellow dyes to make the butter replacement look more buttery.
  • Dairy farmers objected to soymilk and almond milk being called milk, but the FDA hasn't done anything to stop brands from using the word.

Unlike margarine or soymilk, cultured meat is biochemically identical to the substance it's competing with.

Making the rules

The USDA (responsible for overseeing agriculture) and the FDA (regulating drugs and dietary supplements) both could have some say in how lab-grown meat is labeled.

  • From a production standpoint, cultured meat is more in line with the way drugs and additives are made in a lab.
  • From a final product, if lab-grown meat is going to end up next to the traditionally slaughtered meat, the USDA should take charge.

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