The pantry of the end of the world: what foods to choose (and how to keep them) if the apocalypse explodes

The end of the world It is one of the recurring fears of Humanity. And it is that at the same moment that we began to wonder about our existence, we began to wonder what our end would be.

Different versions of the apocalypse are present in all religions, but it has also been a fruitful field of scientific studies. Not surprisingly, the self-destruction of Humanity has become a possibility that is not negligible at different times in history.

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Fear of the end of the world experienced its greatest boom in the Cold War, when the possibility of a nuclear conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union was really on the table. It was in these years when they emerged, especially in the United States, known as preppers -literally, “Preparationists”-: properly organized people to survive the nuclear winter.

Having adequate reserves of water and food is one of the obesities of the 'preppers'

In the 60s and 70s it was not uncommon to have a bunker under home with provisions to survive for decades. And, although in the 80s the apocalyptic concerns were lowered, there were rebounds coinciding with different threats, such as the 2000 effect - which was a real danger, even if it remained nothing.

The considered as "Third wave" of preppers began, however, after the attacks of 9/11 and continues to this day, encouraged by the threat of Islamic terrorism, bird flu or ebola and, above all, a fatal outcome of global warming, which, despite not being an imminent threat, could condemn us to a pseudo-apocalyptic scenario sooner rather than later.

The 'prepper'creen for various reasons that the end of the world could be very close.

The cupboard of the end of the world

The preppers they believe that the possibility of living a catastrophe of biblical proportions It is very real and they work accordingly so that they are not caught off guard. In this sense, having adequate water and food reserves is one of the basic pillars of the movement.

True, that of the preppers It is a genuinely American phenomenon - there is even a National Geographic documentary series that explores your livelihood, and your weapons obsession-, but there are also preparationists in Spain.

A few weeks ago, we received the following message from a reader of Direct to the Palate:

Hello, I am a prepper and I would like to know how to store food, which ones to store and how they would last depending on the conservation technique, to prepare for a long-lasting catastrophe in the hypothetical case if food could not be accessed for a while long. Thank you.

It is not a question that has an easy answer. Should we treasure cans of chickpeas? Is it better to opt for sugary foods? What is the best way to access water?

Willing to satisfy the curiosity of our readers (and please the little one Bear grylls that we all have inside), we have asked two of the most renowned experts in food safety from Spain for the best strategy when organizing our pantry of the end of the world. And it is more complex than it might seem.

The cans are fine, but they are not the panacea

The first idea we all have if we are faced with the need to conserve food for as long as possible is Store all kinds of cans.

This conservation method was developed following an express request from the French Government that, during the Napoleonic Wars, offered 12,000 francs to any inventor who devised a cheap and effective method to conserve large quantities of food. The winner of the contest was the winemaker Nicolas Appert, who discovered how to avoid the action of microbes on food 50 years before Louis pasteur (another Frenchman) discovered his role in all this.

There are World War II cans that could be consumed today

The cans, much more sophisticated today than those invented by Appert - although in essence they have the same operation -, are a good option to preserve food for a long time. As he explains to Direct to the Palate the pharmaceutical Gemma del Caño, expert in food safety, thanks to the sterilization method, the cans last a long time. "In fact," he says, "there is some can out there from World War II that was stiff, but with a microbiology that would make it fit for consumption, if someone had the courage to do so."

If we opt for cans, the best would be choose highly processed foods, which concentrate the greatest amount of nutrients and calories - just the opposite of what we would do if we wanted to keep the line at bay, something that would matter little to us in a post-apocalyptic situation.

As the food safety consultant points out Beatriz Robles, ultraprocessed foods meet the premises of long preservation without cold (we can not count on refrigerators at the end of the world) and a comfortable, manageable and geometrically perfect packaging (square or rectangular are those that allow us to stack more), as well as a high Nutrient and energy content.

A real bunker, as it appears in the National Geographic series.

The advantages of lyophilized foods

A giant bunker full of cans seems like a good tool to survive the apocalypse, but we would need much more space than the one that requires storing other types of preserves, such as freeze-dried food

“The cans take up a lot of storage space and since we set out to pretend to live, we would have to do it as long as possible and space is important ”, explains Del Caño. We should be able to store as much food as possible. What do we do with waste of that size? It occurs to me that the water will not be left over so we could use it to collect water. That's cool. But in apocalyptic times I imagine people very stressed and the cans can serve as a weapon, So I don't like that much. Total, with these things I think I would throw away the freeze dried food. ”

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This method of conservation is, in short, a dehydration process that does not use heat, which largely prevents nutritional and organoleptic losses. Although it is expensive, it has, as Del Caño explains, great advantages: you can lyophilize almost what you want, you can make containers per serving to control what each one eats and have an equitable distribution and, in addition, there are methods to heat the food without need of external energy - something that the armies of many countries already have - so there would be no problem if we do not have electricity.

The problem of these foods, which leads us to the great difficulty that we would encounter in every apocalyptic scenario, in the access to water.

Water, our worst nightmare

As Robles points out, even if we can store a lot of cans, “if a food is highly energetic, it is because it has the highly concentrated nutrients, which necessarily implies that you will have little water: therefore, to keep us hydrated we will not be able to count on the water provided by food because it will be limited. And water occupies what it occupies. There is no way to reduce its size. ”

We will not be able to count on the water provided by food because it will be limited

"The limiting factor in apocalyptic era is water", matches Del Caño. “We always think about food storage but we need someone to remember to take water treatment pills, even look for some method to convert seawater into drinking water. From the sea we could also get fantastic nutrients, many algae could complement our diet in a wonderful way ”.

Store milk It can also be a good option. "It has a lot of water and also provides us with other nutrients," says Robles. “But it would be eliminatory: or water or milk. If I need 500 liters of water, I can store 300 liters of water, plus 200 liters of milk. ”

In summary, food safety experts agree to present the following Shopping list In case of any apocalyptic event, be it nuclear war, alien invasion or meteorite impact:

  • Freeze-dried foods and cans in small and easily stackable containers, prioritizing pre-cooked dishes of legumes and cereals, which are the most complete, which also include vegetables.

  • All kinds of nurseries that come in containers that are well stored: cookies, chocolate, jams, creams spread ...

  • Fish cans, one of the most complete preserves in terms of nutritional profile.

  • Oil.

  • Toasted bread and nuts properly packaged.

  • Food Complements, which may supplement a diet that may not meet our needs. "So vitamin and mineral supplements for everyone, and that roar," explains Robles. "Also isolated from soy and whey protein, which are powdered and can be added to the rest of the food to enrich it."

  • Dairy products: Since the milk is already counted with the liquid, well-cured cheeses, which have very concentrated nutrients, could be well preserved.

The most important, however, will remain water. "That's the real problem that must be resolved, ”insists Del Caño.

Images | iStock / Bethesda / National Geographic / Pixabay

Video: Prepping for Doomsday (December 2019).