Prudent Food Storage

The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down. - Proverbs 21:20

Section 6 Resources
E. Food and Equipment Suppliers


When it comes to building a food storage program, sooner or later you may need to seriously consider mail ordering at least a part of the foods you want. Even for those of us who try do as much as we can locally there are some things which are not going to be easily available in our areas. To help with this I have included below a list of food and equipment suppliers where nearly anything can be found.

Because many do find it necessary or desirable to purchase via mail order I am including some points to consider before shelling out your cash.

  1. Find out how much the shipping costs are going to be. Grains and legumes are relatively cheap, but weigh a lot when bought in bulk. Because of this, shipping charges can sometimes double (or more) the actual cost of the product by the time it reaches your door. Adding insult to injury is the round bucket fee UPS charges in addition to their regular shipping charges. This fee has become sufficiently high that many companies now find it cheaper to buy boxes to ship their buckets in. Compare carefully each company's list price and their shipping charges, combined, when deciding who to order from. Saving up for a larger order, or finding someone to combine orders with might enable you to make a large enough order to get a price break on shipping. Alternatively, you could take a vacation in the area of the company's location or swing through the area on the way back from one. If you choose to do this, be certain to call ahead and let them know your date of arrival so they'll have your order ready and waiting for you. The company in the next state may be higher on their list price, but end up being cheaper than having it shipped in from six states away.

  2. Ask the supplier when your order is going to ship. Some suppliers are behind in filling orders so you could be waiting and waiting. Slowness in shipping is not necessarily a sign of bad business though. Some suppliers may drag their feet, but others may be genuinely swamped by the volume of business they are receiving because they have a good product at a fair price.

  3. How fresh is the product you are ordering? Freshness is what it's all about when it comes to storage foods. If a food has a five year shelf life in its container then you want as much of those five years to be on your shelf, not the supplier's.

  4. Be clear as to how the product you are ordering is packaged. Many suppliers offer identical foods packaged several different ways. Be certain the product number you are giving the salesperson is for the product packed in the manner you want.

  5. What is the head gas analysis? If you are ordering foods packed in a nitrogen flushed oxygen free container (with or without an oxygen absorber packet added) then ask about the laboratory test results that measure the oxygen content of the head gasses in the container. This is of great importance if you are counting on the extra storage life such packaging will give you. There are but a few companies such as Perma Pak, Ready Reserve, and Walton Feed that actually produce packaged storage foods and most dealers only distribute and retail their products. If the dealer can not produce the manufacturer's test data measuring the head gasses of the products they are selling then keep looking.

  6. If you are purchasing wheat and intend to use it primarily for bread making then be sure to ask about its protein content. The best breads need at least 12% protein with 13-14% better still. Unusually high protein levels though might indicate a problem. When considering grain wheat subtract about 1.5% of the protein content of the berries to arrive at the probable gluten content of that lot of grain. Also take a close look at the weight of the product. One company's five or six gallon bucket of wheat may not weigh the same as another's. The same applies to dehydrated foods such as fruits, vegetables, TVP, etc. Ask about the moisture content of bulk foods which are not already packaged for long term storage. 10% or less moisture is where you want to be for grains, legumes and most everything else.

  7. What is the company's damage and return policy? If your carefully packed SuperPails and #10 cans get dented or cracked in shipping you'll need to have them replaced. Most mail order companies will require you to contact the shipper (such as UPS) for a claim number. The shipper may or may not require an inspection so don't destroy any packaging or containers until you know for sure.

Does anyone else know of anything else a person should look out for or ask about when mail ordering storage food?

Updated: 9/18/96; 4/16/97; 7/21/97; 10/20/97; 9/15/98; 11/02/99; 12/01/03

Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003. Alan T. Hagan. All rights reserved.

Excluding contributions attributed to specific individuals or organizations all material in this work is copyrighted to Alan T. Hagan with all rights reserved. This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the entire text, mine and the contributor's names and this copyright notice remain intact, unless my prior express permission has been obtained. This FAQ may not be distributed for financial gain, included in commercial collections or compilations, or included as a part of the content of any web site without prior, express permission from the author.

DISCLAIMER: Safe and effective food storage requires attention to detail, proper equipment and ingredients. The author makes no warranties and assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in this text, or damages resulting from the use or misuse of information contained herein. This FAQ is not intended for, nor should it be used in, any commercial food applications.

Placement of or access to this work on this or any other site does not necessarily mean the author espouses or adopts any political, philosophical or metaphysical concepts that may also be expressed wherever this work appears.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements & Foreword

Section 1 - Shelf Lives

  1. Time, Temperature, Moisture, Oxygen and Light

Section 2 - Foods

  1. Common Storage Foods

A. Grains & legumes

  1. Grains & Grain Products
  2. Legumes
  3. Availability of Grains and Legumes
  4. Storing Grains and Legumes

B. Dairy Products

  1. Dry Milks
  2. Canned Fluid Milks and Creams
  3. Butter
  4. Cheese

C. Eggs

  1. Dry Eggs

D. Sugar, Honey and Other Sweeteners

  1. Granulated Sugars
  2. Honey
  3. Cane Syrups
  4. Corn Syrup
  5. Maple Syrup

E. Fats and Oils

  1. Buying & Storing Oils and Fats
  2. Extending Shelf Life By Adding Anti-Oxidants

F. Cooking Adjuncts

  1. Baking Powder
  2. Baking Soda
  3. Herbs & Spices
  4. Salt
  5. Vinegar
  6. Yeast

G. Infant Formula

  1. Alternatives to Breastfeeding
  2. Selecting and Feeding An Infant Formula
  3. Storing Infant Formulas and Baby Foods

H. MREs - Meals, Ready to Eat

  1. U.S. Military MREs
  2. U.S. Civilian MREs
  3. British/Canadian MREs
  4. Other Self-Heating Ready To Eat Type Products

I. Ration Bars

  1. Ration Bars

Section 3 - Specific Equipment Questions

A. Storage Containers

  1. What is Food Grade Packaging?
  2. Plastic Packaging
  3. Metal Cans
  4. Glass Jars
  5. Mylar Bags
  6. Reusing or Recycling Packaging

B. CO2 and Nitrogen

  1. Dry Ice
  2. Compressed Nitrogen

C. Vacuum Sealing

  1. Vacuum Sealing Considerations

D. Freeze Treating

  1. Freeze Treating

E. Oxygen Absorbers

  1. What Is an Oxygen Absorber?
  2. How Are Oxygen Absorbers Used?

F. Moisture in Packaging and Food Storage

  1. Why Moisture is Important
  2. What Is A Desiccant?
  3. Types of Desiccants
  4. How Do I Use Desiccants?
  5. Where Do I Find Desiccants?

G. Diatomaceous Earth

  1. What is Diatomaceous Earth?
  2. Where Do I Find DE and What Type Should I Buy?
  3. How Do I Use DE in Food Storage?

Section 4 - Spoilage

A. Insect Infestations

  1. Pests of Stored Grains, Legumes and Dry Foodstuffs
  2. Control of Insect Infestations

B. Molds in Foods

  1. Minimizing Molds
  2. Molds in Canned Goods
  3. Molds in Grains and Legumes

C. Bacterial Spoilage

  1. Botulism

D. Enzymatic Action in Food Spoilage

  1. Enzymatic Action

Section 5 - Shelf Lives

A. Food Product Dates

  1. "Best Used By", "Use By" and Other Food Product Dates

B. Closed Dating

  1. Closed Dating Codes Used by Some Food Manufacturers

C. Shelf Lives

  1. Shelf Lives of Some Common Storage Foods

Section 6 - Resources

A. Books

  1. Books

B. Pamphlets

  1. Pamphlets

C. Electronic-online

  1. Information sources
  2. Software sources

D. Organizations

  1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - LDS Family Cannery Guidelines

E. Food and Equipment Suppliers

  1. Mail Ordering Storage Foods What You Should Know
  2. Addresses of Suppliers