Food storage sounds like a simple enough concept to grasp. Buy what you need and store it in a safe place and you're good to go, right? Well, not so much. With the prices of food constantly going up and the possibility of TEOTWAWKI lingering, we need to take measures to ensure the longevity of the food we have and can afford to stockpile. It isn't like the grocery store will still be open for business and receiving regular shipments when the SHTF; at that point, you will have to be your own grocery store.
There are five things that can pose problems for food storage. Some of them will even work together to gang up on you and make food storage even more difficult. These are things you need to prepare to face ahead of time, centralizing your food storage around their avoidance.
1. Bugs, rodents, and anything else creepy that crawls or scurries can be a problem for stored foods. Pests come in all shapes and sizes but have one thing in common: you don't want them coming into contact with your food. Be aware of the common types of pests in your area so you know what you need to ward off. Creating a strong physical barrier (metal is my favorite) along with using a pest repellent such as diatomaceous earth will help reduce the threat that pests pose.
2. We may need oxygen to survive but our food does not. When it comes to food storage, oxygen brings with it unsavory things (bacteria, pests, microorganisms, etc.) that will taint your food. Air tight containers such as vacuum bags can help stop such problems before they start as can the use of oxygen absorbers which suck away the oxygen that can be used against you.
3. Moisture is not a friend to stored food, which can be a problem depending on where you live as humidity can be as high as the temperature (or higher!) at times. To ward off problems caused by moisture and humidity, food must be packaged in such a manner that a good barrier is present. This can include storing your food in mason jars, food grade buckets, or vacuum seal bags. Setting food out on a shelf in only the packaging in which it is sold is not going to be enough to protect it from moisture for the long haul.
4. The temperature at which food, even canned goods, are stored is important. In addition to maintaining a tolerable temperature for stored food, you want to try to maintain a consistent one. Fluctuations in temperature can wreak havoc on the shelf life of food. To get the maximum longevity out of stored food, keep it in a temperature range of 40-70 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain the least amount of fluctuation. The lower the temperature you are able to maintain, the better, as long as it is still within range; the hotter food gets, the more its life span is shortened.
5. There is a reason milk comes in cartons or colored containers and the reason is that light can be harmful to food. Access of light to food can affect taste, nutritional composition, and appearance. Keep light from coming into contact with your food to avoid light being able to leech all the good out of it.
While these precautions may seem somewhat excessive to some, they account for the fine line between yourself and survival. All these extra steps amount to additional time, energy, and cost that you must incur, but you have to weigh the pros and cons, keeping in mind that survival is priceless. Tweak this list as needed to apply to your geographical region and climate, but do take the precautions necessary, and while you're at it, don't forget to watch those expiration dates!