Everyone would agree that fresh fruits and vegetables are the main sources of vitamins and other nutrients in our diet, and eating fresh fruits and vegetables is the best way to get the nutritional value our bodies require.
Long Term Food Storage For Your Family
However, when looking at long term food storage for our families, it is not always possible to maintain this highest level of nutritional value, but we need to do everything we can to maintain the highest level possible.
Defining “Nutritional Value” is something most people don’t think about when beginning long term food storage. Food storage has a large impact on nutritional value when we consider whether food is going to be stored as dried food, canned, dehydrated, etc. Some of the things that affect the nutritional value include; (1) how foods are grown, (2) how foods are prepared, (3) the method used to store and preserve them, and (4) the use of pesticides in their growing.
If possible, it is important to always grow your own fruits and vegetables. That is the only way you control how the foods have been grown, the irrigation methods used, and what, if any pesticides have been sprayed on the foods.
Once fruits and vegetables are picked, they begin decaying and losing their vitamins. In order to slow this decay process in some foods, preservation should start as soon as possible. In other foods like root vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, etc., they can be stored for a long time in a cool, dark place.
The most natural destruction of vitamins in food storage comes from air, light, and ambient temperatures. The most unstable vitamins are Vitamins B2, C, and E. Vitamin B Complex will stay in stored foods for much longer periods of time. For instance, milk loses about 90% of its riboflavin if left in the sun for about two hours. Bread loses about 20% of its riboflavin if left in the light for just twenty-four hours. Another natural loss due to exposure to air is vitamin C. Once orange juice is opened, after just 4 days, it has lost 50% of its vitamin C, and after two week, 95%. Luckily some vitamins can be replaced very easily, such as with Vitamin E. The richest source of Vitamin E is found in nuts and vegetable oils. Eggs are high in Vitamins A, D, E, K, and B. For protein, eggs are the perfect source, and for long term food storage, they can be stored in dried form.
Drying foods just after picking removes the water and is one way to slow this loss of nutrients. Dehydrating foods only slightly affects the nutritional value. Potassium, magnesium, and sodium minerals are retained in fruits when they are dried. Dehydrating foods causes less damage to nutrition than canning or freezing.
In conclusion, when thinking of long term food storage for your family, always think of calories and protein as “Nutrients” necessary for survival. Although you should always include a good supply of multi-vitamins in your emergency food storage, do not forget that grains and foods from the meat group provide more protein necessary for optimal nutrition than do fruits and vegetables.