A Well-Rounded Pantry: Maximizing Nutrition in Your Emergency Food Supply
BY LISA BEDFORD
Traditional emergency food storage advice usually centers around amassing buckets of wheat, white rice, and canned food. In a pinch, you could survive on basics such as these, but the lack of essential nutrients can have devastating results over time.
In everyday life, we typically get all the nutrients our bodies need. As a result, it’s rare to hear of a case of disease caused by a nutrition deficiency.
However, in a time of crisis, food shortages, and inflation, your emergency food storage pantry may not be enough to maintain optimal health. So, it’s time to look for ways to add another layer to your food storage with intensely nutritious foods to fill bellies and boost overall wellness during stressful times.
Macronutrients Are Key
As you build your emergency food storage pantry, consider how you might incorporate macronutrients as its foundation. Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fat, and protein. While most food storage checklists emphasize carbohydrates (rice, wheat, etc.), neglect the other two at your peril! Carbs are easy to store and are inexpensive, but be sure to build up foods containing high fat and protein levels for a more balanced approach.
Protein is an essential macronutrient for maintaining virtually all bodily functions. Canned meat and poultry, a variety of beans, freeze-dried meat, and even protein powder can help to ensure you and your family have enough protein if you must depend solely on food storage.
It’s vital to include different forms of fat in your food storage for energy, satiety, and overall health. Vegetable oils don’t have a long shelf life—on average, just a year or so if left unopened and stored in a cool, dark location. They and corn, canola, and safflower oils become rancid more quickly than healthier oils, making them a contributing factor of cancer development. Healthier options that are just as easy to store include coconut oil, avocado oil, butter, ghee, and tallow. These can have a shelf life of up to five years when left unopened and stored in a cool location such as a refrigerator or freezer. In fact, the shelf life of all fats can be extended when stored in either location.
The final macronutrient, carbohydrates, plays an essential role in food storage. Carbs are the body’s primary energy source, so they can’t be overlooked. However, it’s vital to find sources of carbohydrates that provide high levels of nutrients. For example, rather than regular pasta and white flour, stock up on whole wheat pasta and whole wheat flour—or buy wheat berries and plan on grinding your own. This flour has more fiber, iron, protein, calcium, and vitamins B1, B3, and B5.
Consider other whole grains that provide carbohydrates and higher levels of other nutrients. Spelt, amaranth, einkorn, quinoa, barley, and buckwheat are all healthy and nutritious with a long shelf live—perfect for the food storage pantry.
Micronutrients are an overlooked part of food storage, essential for adding a more significant nutritional boost and keeping your body functioning optimally. Fermented foods are excellent sources of micronutrients. Home-canned and commercially canned fermented foods are inexpensive and easy to store. In addition, fermented foods contain healthy bacteria and yeast, leading to a healthier gut and improved gut biome.
Kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles are easy to find in grocery stores—but they’re also simple DIY projects. Making these yourself allows you to adjust the seasonings to your liking. Not everyone appreciates a kimchi loaded with red pepper and enough garlic to ward off an army of vampires!
One of the easiest ways to add highly nutritious fermented foods to your pantry is by making your own fermented garlic honey with unfiltered, raw honey and peeled garlic cloves. Honey, bee pollen, propolis, and other bee products are fantastic additions to your food storage, with both medicinal and culinary uses.
To make fermented garlic honey, stir together one cup of honey and one cup of garlic cloves in a large canning jar. Keep the jar loosely capped and stir the mixture daily. You’ll soon see bubbles in the honey, letting you know that fermentation has started. Within a few weeks, this will be fermented and perfect for adding to salad dressings and stir-fries. You can also use it as a home remedy for coughs and to boost immunity.
Nuts and Seeds
Another good form of micronutrients are nuts and seeds. Cashews are loaded with iron, macadamia nuts have high levels of vitamin B1, and walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re easy to store and versatile.
But like oils, nuts and seeds quickly become rancid. Prolong their shelf life by either keeping them in a tightly sealed container in a freezer or refrigerator, or by packaging them in a canning jar with an oxygen absorber. Stored in a cool, dark location, the shelf life of nuts and seeds can be prolonged by many years.
Powders and Supplements
Nuts and seeds are often ingredients in protein powder, but greens powder is another type of powder you can add to your food storage. Greens powder is made from algae, vegetables, grasses, and fruits—all excellent sources of antioxidants, minerals, and nutrients. Some brands of greens powder also contain probiotics, another essential for a healthy gut. Look for powders that contain real ingredients, preferably certified organic, and are third-party-tested for heavy metals and pesticides. Athletic Greens, Beyond Greens, and Greens Blend from Amazing Grass are three reliable brands.
One newcomer to this category is Ruvi, a health powder drink. Ruvi drinks come in four different formulas, all made from freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. This brand contains no sugars, sweeteners, fillers, preservatives, or colorings. The freeze-drying process preserves produce at its peak level of nutrition. Ruvi is only available to purchase online.
Collagen powder, multivitamins, and supplements you know to be effective and recommended by your health professional add another dimension for boosting and maintaining optimal health.
Complete your well-rounded, highly nutritious food storage pantry by learning how to make a few simple, traditional foods such as sourdough bread and bone broth. The book “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon Morell is a great resource.
Sourdough bread uses a simple-to-make starter that can be stored at room temperature or in a refrigerator. This type of bread contains forms of gluten and protein that are easier to digest and make its nutrients easier for the body to absorb. A sourdough starter can begin as quickly as combining equal amounts of any type of flour with water and a teaspoon of sugar or honey. This combination starts the fermentation process, resulting in a bubbly starter that you can use for bread, pancakes, cookies, or any recipe that calls for a starter.
Bone broth is just as easy to make, and its health benefits are numerous. It’s a great source of protein, bioavailable minerals, amino acids, collagen, and vitamins. Add organ meat to the bone broth as it simmers for even more nutrients and flavor. As a bonus, meat bones are inexpensive, and the butcher may even have bones to give away. You can home-can bone broth using a pressure canner.
For both sourdough bread and bone broth, find two or three simple recipes and give them a try. When you find recipes you like, begin stocking up on their ingredients. In the case of bone broth, start making several batches now, home-can them, and store them at room temperature.
In a time of crisis, a healthy body will be your first line of defense.