An article in this month’s TIME magazine (March 19, 2012 | Vol. 179 No. 11) reports that scientists at NASA and the military are working on innovative ways to preserve food, even highly perishable food like mayonnaise, so it can survive for years at room temperature. John Floros, the lead author of the recent report “Feeding the World Today and Tomorrow” writes that the biggest problem the world faces when it comes to food – especially critical but perishable food like fruits and vegetables – is that we lose 30% to 70% of it to rot.
The author also illustrates the three biggest challenges to food preservation, challenges that most of us interested in self-sufficiency know first hand: controlling moisture, atmosphere and organisms. Some of the new techniques mentioned are mixing in water-absorbing ingredients like glycerol and sorbitol, edible polymer films, including packets of oxygen-eating chemicals in wrappers and high-pressure processing (known as HPP). HPP uses pressure instead of heat to kill bacteria, a process that keeps the taste intact and may pave the way for preserving highly perishable food while ensuring it still tastes like it’s supposed to.
Most of us think of long-term food supply as insurance for our families in a disaster or supply chain interruption. But there are scientists with big labs and big budgets who are thinking on a much larger scale – not a day goes by that a government or rescue organization isn’t faced with feeding a multitude. New discoveries in long-term food preservation techniques are good for all of us.
Rising Food Prices
Last week we wrote about Rising Food Prices – and mentioned that one way to stabilize your food budget and keep food costs neutral during a global price spike is to keep a store of dehydrated or freeze-dried food that can be used to supplement fresh food. If you bought a store this year, you’d have the ability to have a meal in 2037 at $1.67 a serving instead of $2.67 a serving, which is where average inflation is taking food prices.
How We Do It
At Wise, we’re already using advanced techniques to provide tasty food with a long shelf life. We’ve also just started offering freeze-dried fruits and vegetables that not only provide variety, but critical nutrients.
In our freeze-drying process, food is flash-frozen then placed in a vacuum drying chamber. This process removes the majority of the water and moistening without affecting the taste, color, form or nutritional value of the food.
In our dehydration process, food moves through a drying chamber where air removes the moisture from the food. This occurs at low temperatures so that the nutritional profile stays intact.
We also use airtight nitrogen packed pouches. This unique packaging process removes the majority of the residual oxygen and immediately flushes the Mylar bag with nitrogen. This technique also simplifies the preparation process by eliminating the need to locate and remove an oxygen absorber from each individual pouch.
If you’d like to learn more, we’ve got some information and a video here on our website.
We’re keeping an eye on the new techniques – who knows, maybe someday we’ll be able to grab a very tasty, ready-made tuna sandwich from the food storage stash.