MREs Are For Pussies

16 thoughts on “MREs Are For Pussies”

  1. Thank you for another inspiring post. I do recall one good thing about those MREs: the Tootsie rolls! I don’t take MREs on hiking trips anymore; I take jerky and dried fruits and nuts– ye olde trail mix. This works well for long driving trips through junk food territory as well (and for those I usually also take along squeeze-bottle of raw honey). No need to haul a cooler or attempt to heat anything. On the road I’ll stop in a junk food joint for hot coffee– none of that “food.” Funny, I understand the jerky, dried fruits, and nuts combo worked for people for, like, thousands of years.

  2. Johnny,

    I agree with Lauren: that soup does look delicious. Just looking at it makes me realize just how hungry I am right now.

    And I’m curious about the beehives. They look like they’re on an urban (SF?) rooftop. But isn’t there a risk the bees will sting people in such an environment?

    1. I started out wanting a few hens in the city and asked my immediate neighbors if that would be okay. A few expressed their concerns and said no. So I did some research and discovered that honey bees work really well in an urban environment. I installed the hives when no one was around and it took four months for anyone to even notice they were there. Short answer – bees aren’t any kind of hazard when installed and managed correctly. And by the way, my city hives and more productive than the hives I keep in Sonoma in the country.

      We’ve all been divorced from nature and agriculture for so many generations that we instinctively fear everything. I’ve had groups of little kids up on the roof to look at the bees and it was fine.

  3. How long do those canned meatballs and soups last? It seems like it would take a lot of late night subs to eat them. Just curious.

    1. I don’t know about you, but I eat every day – usually three times.

      Canned goods have a shelf life that’s measured in years. If stored in a cool, dry, dark place the food will remain safe for a really long time. But I don’t pressure can food and bury it in a bunker. I use the stuff continuously. The oldest stuff gets used first and newly canned items are rotated to the back of the queue.

      I’ll take a jar of beef stew, lentils, or chicken soup with me to work for lunch. If I get home and don’t feel like cooking I’ll open a jar of ground beef and add it to a jar of tomato sauce and a package of pasta to create farfalle bolognese. Or I’ll add Mexican seasoning to the ground beef and make tacos.

      Add some fresh veggies and fruit from the garden and I can have a complete home cooked totally normal and cost effective dinner on the table in ten minutes.

  4. Just a thought. In case of a disaster, how practical are glass canning jars? If earthquake and they fall or something falls on them, they could break. Grew up in SF, so familiar with earthquake activity.

    1. There is no perfect solution.

      I keep a serious amount of dry goods in five gallon plastic buckets with Gamma Seal lids. They’re less likely to shatter in a quake than glass. But you can’t keep soups and meats in such buckets.

      I keep my canning jars in their original boxes. Then I set the boxes on special steel shelves with safety edges that keep things from falling off. The shelves are strapped to the wall in multiple spots. Then I loop mini bungie cords around things to keep them from sliding around.

      I also keep a generous supply of my canned goods at the home of a friend in another neighborhood along with plenty of emergency water and propane in case one part of the city is hit harder than another. And I have a country house fifty miles away that is also set up with plenty of supplies. In a really big quake there’s probably nothing anyone can to do. But I did my best.

      I spent a fair amount of time working with a Transition Towns group here in San Francisco a few years back. Nice people. But I found a lot of folks who were obsessed with all the things that aren’t perfect and they became paralyzed and ultimately did nothing at all. I asked them if they wanted perfection that was never going to exist, or if they wanted something pretty good that might just work.

      1. I am not a perfectionist by any means. Sounds as if you’ve covered it. I just was thinking of some sort of containers that would work like glass, not plastic. Haven’t come up with anything yet. Metal cans can be damaged. Do you know anything about the process used to hold/preserve foods like the food used by mountain climbers, hikers? Light weight and reconstituted with water. Not MREs.

        1. If food is dehydrated it needs to be rehydrated before you eat it. That creates a need to store more water. It also tends to require heat and at least a tiny bit of cooking in the form of boiling water. My pressure canned items are already fully hydrated and can be eaten at room temperate if need be.

          I like the fact that my canning jars can be re-used indefinitely with proper care. And my pressure canner is built like a tank and will last a century.

          All the lightweight packaging materials I know of (mylar, plastic pouches) are vulnerable to mice and rats. I went through a mylar bag phase with some success, but found I had to pack the bags inside a five gallon bucket with a Gamma Seal lids to keep them critter proof. (Rats can easily chew in to a plastic bucket, but they tend not to if they don’t know anything is inside.) That works for dry goods, but not liquids.

          Again – my point is that there is no perfect system. I’m doing what I can. I take advice from people who are better at this stuff than I am. Mormons, Amish… When someone who has a single box of frozen pizza and some Kool-Aid in their kitchen starts giving me advice… I shrug.

  5. Those soups looks delicious!

    I completed my first canning project two weeks ago-pasta sauce made with tomatoes from our garden. Creating something tangible and useful was quite satisfying in contrast to the paper-pushing I do at my day job.

  6. Johnny! Great post as always. I’m actually in SF for a few more days (leave tuesday), let me know if you’d like to meet up for coffee or anything.

  7. Impressed. Plain and simple. I have planted and harvest a lot of fruit and veggies from my city lot but am an on again off again processor. Your systems and discipline are off the chart.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.