by Jesse Mathewson
Two of my favorite historical people, Samuel Clemens (eg., Mark Twain) and W.C. Fields had much to say regarding food. Mark Twain stated, “Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” While the amazingly funny comic, Fields stated, “Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water…” Yes, he was a notorious drinking man and this was a lead up into a really wonderful joke. However, as we all know, food is something that fuels us, and thanks to our taste buds and sensory organs, must taste good as well as be somewhat visually appealing.
Over the years there have been hundreds of approaches to survival/prepper/bush crafting ration. A short list follows, and if you have been playing with the Foxfire books or in the bush for any length of time, you will know what most of these are and how they are made, or can be made.
- Hard Tack – originally designed for long sailing journeys as a last resort they evolved into crackers, cookies, biscuits as they say on the other side of the pond with time. This food is an extremely hard, long lasting mixture of flour, salt and water. That’s basically it, sure there are variations but quite minor.
- Honey, this has always been a food used for its benefits, taste and ability to last virtually forever. My suggestion is for eating, buy local honey, or learn to keep bees. For antibiotic and medicinal reasons, spend the money on the New Zealand honey, its worth it. With dozens of surgeries and months of wound care I can say, honey is my go to for healing, all day every day. If you cannot afford the New Zealand honey, get the darkest local strained BUT not pasteurized (boiled) honey. (Strained is essential, bee parts will make infections worse, everything else kills valuable antibiotic properties.)
- Dried fruits/ fish and smoked meats were the staples of many Viking clans, simply because salt was a rarity. Done properly, dried or smoked foods can last for many many months and be quite healthy for you.
- Salted beef, fish (again a sailor trick originally) salt is a preservative, and again, done properly, the food lasts indefinitely regardless temperature variations. Contrary to what the FDA may say.
- Pemmican, a personal favorite for myself pemmican is made of rendered animal fat, crushed nuts, berries, finely diced dried meat and seeds etc., rolled into a ball it is not the most appetizing to look at, but lasts well in heat and is VERY good for energy rebuilding. I do my best to use only local nuts, berries, etc., this keeps diet similar and doesn’t cause major issues with stomach (as can occur when your diet changes suddenly.) Make sure you look around or talk to someone who has made it, its not difficult.
- R.E.s, yes the military cardboard packaged in cardboard and flavored with cardboard, guaranteed to stop you up immediately. Honestly, I avoid them, however, some people simply must have them.
- Coast Guard Survival Rations: similar to granola bars but with a longer shelf life, no thirst inducement, and relatively decent taste, these are favorites for myself and others for 3-day packs
This review is on one particular product that has been tested by 7 children, 3 adults with stellar results. The Survival Tabs ™ these amazing tablets are smaller than a nickel in diameter, but about 4 times as thick, (see pictures). Twelve tablets contain 240 calories, and you are supposed to eat one every hour.
- Four flavors currently exist, vanilla, strawberry, butterscotch and chocolate – my testing crew were okay with all of them but preferred the strawberry and vanilla flavors.
- They have a solid mixture of necessary proteins, fats and nutrients needed to provide energy and help you feel good while not being able to eat a regular meal.
- Unopened they have a shelf life of 25 years, keeping them air tight after opening you should be okay for several years.
- Temperature extremes are not supposed to affect them, however, they do recommend room temperature.
- Originally designed for the space program, they give the body 100% of the required nutrients to maintain mental and physical acuity.
- My personal testing was for a total of five days, using just these and water. I lost two pounds, but at no time did I feel like I was losing energy or ability to function.
- The most important benefit I have found is that for the size and weight, you can easily pack 4 of the foil wrapped packages in a three-day rig for the same size and approximate weight than one coast guard ration. At ten ounces per package, this allows you over a week for one person or 3 days for 3-4 people depending on rationing approach. Pretty amazing really.
Now for the negatives, as there are always negatives, thankfully with this product there are not many.
- They are slightly chalky in taste, a little greasy in texture but NOT thirst inducing. The flavoring is light, enough to make them easy to eat without being cardboard like.
- My children had no problem eating them, however, were not thrilled with taste or texture. And we noticed no side affects, such as diarrhea, constipation or stomach upset. All individuals who ate them noticed increased energy almost immediately and enjoyed that aspect.
- Lastly, packaging, you either get the smaller sample type packs or the larger jugs, there are no in between sizes or mixtures of flavors in one package (which would be ideal).
What long term survival food do you use for your three day, go bag preps? I have mountain house and other items, however, those are for my caches and bugout locations. These are specifically for get home, three day, bugout packs. I can honestly give them 3 stars and this is only because I think they could package them better, to allow for longevity and a mixture in one package versus carrying four different cartons, or packages. I would add a star because unlike other similar products these actually did increase energy and allow for superior cognitive and physical function. (I shot a small match the same week just to see how it affected that aspect, and there were no negative side affects.) So overall, a 4 out of 5 star rating from myself. And definitely worth having in your go bags!
Thoughts, questions? As always feedback is greatly appreciated.