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  • Just Add Water: Freeze-dried vs. Dehydrated Food

    Just Add Water Just add water and you've got yourself a meal!

    After a long day of hiking, camping – or just surviving after a natural disaster – preparing and cooking dinner is most likely one of the last things you have energy for. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to counter that. There are plenty of good meals available that are already pre-prepared and packaged so all you have to do is just add water and voila! You’ve got yourself a delicious, home-style meal no matter where you are.

    You can just add water to more than just pre-prepared meals. Fruits, vegetables, meat, and other food items can likewise be restored to their original state. But before you go about rehydrating all sorts of food, keep in mind there is a difference in the way you rehydrate freeze-dried food and dehydrated food. While the differences may sound subtle, it is important to reconstitute your food properly so as to maintain proper health and not ruin your food.

     

    Reconstituting Dehydrated Food

    If you’re an avid eater of dehydrated food (beef jerky, anyone?), then you might be pleased to know that it doesn’t all have to be eaten that way. However, the process of rehydrating dehydrated food differs depending on the food in question.

    Some foods, such as sauces or dips, just need cold water to be added until your food reaches its desired consistency. Other food, however, takes longer and needs more than just cold water. Meat is an example of such foods. When reconstituting meat, you will need to add your meat to boiling water and let cook for an extended period of time. Depending on the thickness and type of meat, for example, it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

     

    Reconstituting Freeze-Dried Food

    Freeze-dried food is much easier to reconstitute, and once rehydrated, it will revert back to its original shape, texture, and taste – just like it was the day it was freeze-dried. To revert your freeze-dried food back to its original design, all you need to do is place it in hot water and wait up to 10 minutes. It doesn’t need to be boiled, and again, it reverts back to how it was before it was freeze-dried.

     

    There is no method that has been proven better than the other, so it’s up to you. Personally, I love eating freeze-dried fruit without adding any water at all. The taste is so rich and powerful and absolutely delicious! I’m also a huge fan of the pre-prepared freeze-dried meals. Once reconstituted, they taste as if they were made from scratch and just came out of the oven or off the stovetop.

    As some examples, I’d like to show you what some of our just add water freeze-dried meals look like after they’ve been rehydrated. Hold on to your hats, because you’re in for a treat!

     

    Just Add Water Beef Stroganoff Beef Stroganoff
    Just Add Water Chicken Teriyaki Chicken Teriyaki with Rice

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Just Add Water Raspberry Crumble Raspberry Crumble
    Just Add Water Lasagna Lasagna with Meat Sauce

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Don't those dishes look absolutely amazing? Truth be told, they are. And all we had to do to prepare them was just add water. If you didn't believe in miracles before, you might as well start because this will change your life. Check out our just add water products at http://beprepared.com/food-storage/just-add-water.html

     

    Which is your preference, dehydrated of freeze-dried? Let us know why in the comments below!

  • Bird Flu and Egg Shortage

    Bird flu causes egg shortagePicture this. You go to the supermarket and grab a carton of a dozen eggs. You open it and find four missing. So you pick up another carton. Same thing. You try again. Every carton contains only eight eggs.

    Thanks to avian influenza (bird flu), that’s what happened to companies that produce liquid, frozen, dehydrated, and freeze dried eggs.

    As of June 17, avian influenza had affected more than 35 million egg-laying hens. Businesses making egg products like dehydrated eggs lost more than 30 percent of their hens, according to an American Egg Board blog. That’s two out of every six eggs.

    “America’s egg farmers are working hard to find sources for their manufacturing partners and food service customers. However, due to the current supply disruption, there may be some shortages,” the blog said.

    Like human influenza, many strains of avian influenza exist.

    Most are low pathogenic, which means poultry don’t get very sick. Some are high pathogenic, or deadly to domestic flocks. Some can kill 90 to 100 percent of birds in a flock in two days.

    Bird flu carrierWild water birds carry the disease and usually don’t get sick, according to the CDC. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service believes those birds likely brought the virus to the U.S. Once here, it may have passed from bird to bird through contact with feces or through the air in poultry houses. The virus could have flown from farm to farm on water birds, hitchhiked on contaminated vehicles and clothing or, though unlikely, been blown by high wind carrying dust and feathers. Scientists have found the virus on the shells of eggs.

    The CDC identified three high pathogenic strains in this year’s outbreak. None of them seem to jump easily from birds to people, though one is similar to a strain that made people sick in Europe, Asia and South Africa.

    “These specific viruses have not caused infections in people anywhere in the world,” said Alicia Fry from the CDC, in an April 22 news conference. “While we are cautiously optimistic that there will not be human cases, we must be prepared for that possibility, and we are taking routine preparedness steps.”

    Almost everyone who caught the virus worked closely with birds. People can’t get bird flu from eating properly cooked birds or eggs, said Angela Shaw, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and extension specialist in food safety at Iowa State University.

    “Avian influenza is not a food borne pathogen,” Shaw said.

    Egg prices caused by bird flu US Department of Agriculture

    Even though we probably won’t get bird flu, it still affects our wallets.

    The USDA’s Egg Market News Report said for the week of June 22, a dozen large eggs sold for a $2.35 national average. The average price over the last three years, for the same week, was about 95 cents.

    Almost all of the nation’s eggs are spoken for. And it’s not like stores can stock a surplus of fresh ones. There’s such a thing as a rotten egg.

    That’s why many retailers and food service customers are having trouble getting products like freeze dried eggs.

    Companies making such egg products are struggling to get enough eggs to keep up with demand. Here’s what the USDA’s Egg Market News Report said about late June’s dried egg supply:

    “Supplies are very light as processors work to supply needs hand to mouth to regular commitments.”

    Individuals can still get and store eggs like the powdered and freeze-dried ones we sell. Frankly, we at Emergency Essentials are lucky: we were able to secure one of the last available shipments of freeze-dried eggs before the shortage became complete. Those eggs should be available though by the middle of August.

    Because these eggs are pasteurized during processing, no one has to worry about them containing creepy crawlies like bacteria or viruses.

    Avian flu usually decreases during the summer, because the sun’s radiation more quickly breaks down the virus. However, agriculture specialists are bracing for autumn.

    “We can’t really predict what’s going to happen in the future,” said David Swayne, from the USDA’s Southeast Poultry Research Lab, on April 22. “But once the birds go in the summer up to their northern breeding grounds, it’s really not sure if they will be able to bring the virus back south or not.

    “We have to prepare for that potential option.”

    --Melissa Rivera

     

    Sources

    American Egg Board: http://www.aeb.org/blog/food-manufacturers

    Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/avian-in-birds.htm

    U.S. Department of Agriculture: http://www.usda.gov/documents/usda-avian-influenza-factsheet.pdf; http://www.usda.gov/documents/avian-influenza-biology-outbreaks-qa.pdf

    USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: “Epidemiologic and Other Analyses of HPAI-Affected Poultry Flocks: June 15, 2015 Report”: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_dis_spec/poultry/downloads/Epidemiologic-Analysis-June-15-2015.pdf

    Transcript: USDA and CDC Update to Media on Highly Pathogenic H5N2 Avian Influenza Outbreaks, April 22, 2015

    http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2015/04/0113.xml

    Iowa State University, “Eggs and Poultry Safe to Eat, Iowa State University Food Safety Specialist Stresses,” April 21, 2015: http://www.cals.iastate.edu/news/releases/eggs-and-poultry-safe-eat-iowa-state-university-food-safety-specialist-stresses

    USDA Egg Market News Report, June 22, 2015: http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/pybshellegg.pdf

  • Preparing Dads for Disasters

    “Everyone had one thing in common… they all love their kids and were all equally concerned about being prepared for future disaster.”

    Preparing Dads - FishingThat was the scenario in Ohio at a disaster preparedness training for fathers as put on by the U.S. Office of the Administration for Children and Families. It was designed in preparing dads for the unexpected. As Father’s Day fast approaches, perhaps it’s time for fathers – and father figures – to sit down and think about what more we can do to help prepare our families for disaster.

    Now, I’m not a father just yet (although I will be by Father’s Day), but when I think about all I need to do to help my growing family be prepared, it can be a little bit daunting. I want to make sure they have food, water, and shelter if a disaster hits. In fact, there are 12 areas of preparedness that fathers can prepare their family with: water, food, shelter, heat, light, power, sanitation, first aid, communications, cooking, tools, and planning. This post will address each area briefly and what fathers can do to help their family prepare.

     

    Water

    First on the list is water. Without water, we can only survive for about three days. Kids and adults alike need 1 quart of water (about 0.25 gallons) for every 1,000 calories eaten. Storing water is pretty easy. You can start by filling pop bottles with tap water and storing in your basement or somewhere out of direct sunlight. You can also find water in cans and pouches, or use larger jugs, barrels, or large reserves. No matter what your living conditions are, there’s always room for at least some water storage.

     

    Food

    Preparing dads - FoodFood is next. We can last longer without food than we can with water, but again, without food, we’re still in a heap of trouble. I might be able to skimp on meals here and there, but kids are going to need to eat regularly – and in good amount – to stay healthy and growing. Food storage was once regarded as old, musty food stuffs like raw wheat, dehydrated milk and bags of sugar stacked in dark corners in big metal canisters. Well, today is nothing like your great Aunt Ruth’s cellar. Freeze dried fruits and vegetables are actually good enough to eat anytime, even right out of the can. Just-add-water meals include whole entrées like Fettuccine Alfredo and Beef Stroganoff. And even powdered milk is made with processes that perfectly preserve flavor. And, freeze-dried food is packaged to last up to 25 years, so it’s going to last until you need it (unless you get the munchies and pop open that can of freeze-dried strawberries). Today’s kids can be picky eaters. Fortunately, food storage isn’t what it used to be.

     

    Shelter

    Preparing dads - ShelterHaving a good shelter can really make post-disaster life so much more enjoyable. I’ve actually written some great articles about shelter (if I do say so myself), so I’ll just link you to those. The first one is called 4 Reasons Why You Need An Emergency Shelter, and provides information as to what shelters protect you from (hint: it’s more than just rain). This next one explains how tents became the go-to after the Nepal earthquake, and what that means for us. In a nutshell, shelters are right up there in importance with food and water. In short, shelter is not only a great way to keep yourself and your family out of the elements, also provides a feeling of family safety and security, a comfort to your children.

     

    Heat

    Even in the summertime, nights can be cold. In the winter, every time can be cold. Making sure your family stays warm is an essential part of emergency preparedness. If the power goes out, how will you stay warm? My wife has told me stories of a time when she was a teenager, living in Kentucky. They had a crazy ice storm that knocked the power out for days. After a couple days of cooking food with a small, propane stove and bundling up in blankets, they decided to abandon ship and stay with friends who actually had power, and therefore heat.

    Thinking back on her experience, I want to make sure that if we lose power for an extended period of time that my family will have the resources to stay warm. Having something like an indoor-safe propane heater, or other alternate heat source, would have been a welcome relief to my wife and her family during that ice storm.

     

    Power

    Family of four outdoors with solar panel, portrait, elevated viewThe stove cooks the food, the fridge keeps the leftovers cold and the microwave nukes leftovers back to life. There are lights, heat, computers, phones, tablets…and all of it works only when they power is on. When it’s gone, everything changes. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to get power when you need it.

    Solar panels are getting to be a lot more economical to have around as an alternate power source. Other sources to consider are battery-powered devices (make sure to stock up on batteries, though), power packs (big or small), or hand-crank battery packs. Then, of course, are the full-fledged back-up generators. Any of these options can help you through a power outage.

     

    Light

    Speaking of power outages, light is one important thing we are without when power goes down. And if that outage is due to a nighttime disaster, you will be left in the dark in the very moment you need light most. Kids need light for all sorts of things: doing homework, reading Harry Potter, not to mention, just to feel safe. After all, isn’t that what night lights are for? Having light when you otherwise wouldn’t can provide your children (and you) with comfort. Candles, rechargeable lanterns, and outage-sensing emergency flashlights are all inexpensive and easy to keep around the house and in your emergency kits. Then, when your child turns on a flashlight, you can tell him, “You light up my life.” Awww, such a tender moment. I’m glad we could share that together.

     

    Sanitation

    This is one many people don’t generally think about. Sanitation is vital for maintaining good health. Options for personal necessities should be planned for when access to the bathroom is not possible. Also, with kids running around, playing in the dirt and getting into who-knows-what, keeping hands and faces clean might be a tad more difficult than you might think. Give sanitation and hygiene some thought and minimize health issues.

    I recently posted another article about how good sanitation can save your life. It’s a good read (again, tooting my own horn), and should provide you with important information on how to stay sanitary.

     

    First Aid

    Not to be confuse with Second Aid, which is much less effective than First Aid. Even just knowing how to respond to cuts, sores, and other owies can prevent additional harm and prevent infections. First aid prep can be as simple as having band aids (preferably of the Star Wars variety) to having a complete medical kit. Check out fema.gov for a list of things you should have in your first aid kit.

     

    Communications

    Preparing dads - CommunicationsHaving a way to stay connected to the world around you will help you know what the situation is like, when you can return from an evacuation, and just letting your family know you’re OK. We can’t predict earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, or other horrendous disasters, but we can prepare our families to cope and survive as best as possible. By knowing what communication options are available to you before and after a disaster, you’ll have more confidence that you can know how to protect your loved ones. Confidence can be contagious, too, so that’s never a bad thing to have in an emergency, especially if you have children. They need to see their father and mother confident that all will be well.

    Be sure to establish a meeting place where family members can meet up after a disaster or in case of an emergency. A local school or church are usually good options. Or, if for some reason you can’t all gather together, find someone you can all call or text, so you can all be accounted for and know each other is safe.

    It is important to note that if you’re all separated, this common third-party person you will contact should live outside the affected area. After all, if you choose someone who lives within the affected area, they may be having just as many problems as you are. And, if you’re trying to get in contact with someone, it’s always best to text. During an emergency or disaster, phone lines can be tied up or even down. Text messages have a tendency to get through when phone calls can’t.

    Having communications equipment will help you stay in touch with your family and the world. Walkie talkies are always a good idea to have on hand. Emergency band radios are also something to consider. These radios will keep you in tune with other radio stations so you can know what’s going on, where help is, and other vital information following a disaster. Some emergency band radios, such as the Kaito Voyager Pro, can even notify you when there is a severe weather warning in your area. Definitely a good source of information, and information can be a total game changer in an emergency.

     

    Cooking

    Preparing dads - CookingRemember the story I told about my wife and their ice storm? Do you remember how they had to cook their food? It definitely wasn’t their stove or oven. It was a portable propane stove. What might have happened to my dear sweet wife had her parents not been prepared with an alternate source of cooking? In reality, they probably would have abandoned their designs of holding the fort a lot quicker. But still, what if that ice storm had made it impossible to leave? Things could have been very different for them.

    Having an alternate source for cooking is another great way to prepare your family for disaster. Be prepared with an alternative way to cook, such as a portable stove, kettle, sun oven, grill, or anything else you can think of that works for you and your family.

     

    Tools

    Have you ever been in a situation where you needed a certain tool to fix something but you don’t have it? That’s happened to me, and it sure is annoying to have to go out to the store and pick one up. Needing a tool you don’t have during an emergency won’t necessarily end as well as just going to the store. I like to keep a 4-in-1 Mini Folding Shovel in the trunk of my car for the next time I hit the ditch and have to dig my car out of the snow. Tell you what, the first (and only) time that happened all I had were my hands. I don’t recommend it. Having other tools, such as knives, screwdrivers, gloves, duct tape, and anything else you can think of can be the difference between a quick fix and a long wait for help.

     

    Planning

    Lastly (but certainly not leastly) is planning. Planning is one of the most essential parts of emergency preparedness, because without a plan, implementation might never happen. The Journal of Family Psychology suggests that “parents have an important role in disaster preparedness through individual and family disaster planning and by addressing the concerns their children experience in anticipation of disasters.”

    That’s smart talk for “Parents, plan ahead so when a disaster happens, your children won’t freak out.” Although planning is down here near the bottom of this post, it should really be one of the first things you do. Remember Benjamin Franklin’s wise words: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

     

    These the 12 areas of preparedness are what every father should plan for. Your family is counting on you to keep them safe. Your role as a husband and father is more than just going out every day to work and bring home the bacon. Among other things, it’s to prepare and protect them from the disasters that are coming, so they will be safe, healthy, and happy. And don’t worry if you haven’t started preparing. There’s always today! If nothing else, just jot down a simple plan to help get you going.

     

     

    What is the most important thing you prepare for with your family? Let us know in comments!

     

    Practice Your Prep

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