Friday, August 31, 2012

Daily Briefing for Friday, August 31, 2012

By The Numbers

I'm pulling the trigger on a major storeable food purchase this weekend.  I've mentioned in the past I've talked to the folks at both eFoods Direct and Emergency Essentials.  I want to share the math I've come up with to give you additional info in the event you're thinking of making similar purchases.

The eFoods Direct numbers:

Cheesy Chicken Casserole
  • 170 calories/$
  • 4.8g protein/$

Vegetable Beef Stew And Mashed Potatoes
  • 209 calories/$
  • 4.8g protein/$
Cheddar Broccoli Soup
  • 143 calories/$
  • 2.7 g protein/$

Now, compare those to bulk staples and bulk buys from Emergency Essentials:

Hard Red Wheat
  • 1,740 calories/$
  • 67.7 g protein/$
ABC Soup Mix
  • 319.2 calories/$
  • 18.24 g protein/$
Freeze Dried Ground Beef
  • 58 calories/$
  • 9.7 g protein/$

The eFoods Direct products are great - they taste great and are easy to prepare.  But you clearly pay a stiff premium for that convenience.  For about $500, I can buy enough red wheat to provide my basic caloric and protein needs for a year.  I'd be spending far more than that at eFoods or other purveyor.

Don't get me wrong - there are times and situation where the "just add water" solution is needed, and that's where a product like eFoods and Mountain House shine. 

One other thing I should let you know - Emergency Essentials is back ordered on a number of food items.  It appears people are stocking up.  If you need to add to your reserves, this is a good time to do it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Daily Briefing for Wednesday, August 29, 2012

So What's New?

Well, first of all, Caleb Causey (the CEO of Lone Star Medics) and I visited my high school alma mater last weekend to do a one day class which I later suggested (and Caleb agreed) to call the "Student Responder Training."  We had about ten kids in the class, who spent the day with us learning tactical first aid, crisis leadership, and emergency management.

Caleb is hoping to use the lessons he learned in teaching this first ever class and market it to other schools as well.  The concept represents a big shift in how we ask kids to respond to emergencies.  Webb has made the decision to have their kids more involved in the emergency plan and response.  When you think about it, it makes sense on so many levels - most of the seniors in the class will turn 18 this year if they haven't already. 

The students were fantastic.  They were very engaged in the training.  The main lesson Caleb and I learned was that for the age group, it's best to go light on theory and heavy on scenarios and practical skills.  In other words - less white board time and more time practicing using tourniquets and bandages in mock disasters. 

I'm really appreciative of Caleb agreeing to come to Webb to help my school, and I hope he can use his time there to develop a much needed class for other schools.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Daily Briefing for Thursday, August 9, 2012


It's been a few days since I posted anything, and that's by design.  The new job is going very well, but it does require a tremendous amount of "sitting in front of the computer" time at the moment as I get things set up on the system and read position papers.  So I am not doing much of that in the evenings.

Earlier this evening, those of you who follow my musings on Facebook noticed I posted a picture of the packaging of my dinner this evening - a Mountain House freeze dried chicken stew, to be exact.  The food's "best by" date expired five years ago this week; I made sure I mentioned that in my caption of the picture.

This prompted a few folks to ask why on earth would I eat expired foods, and do so as regularly as I do.  Since there seems to be some interest in this issue, I thought I would address it here.

Here are the four why questions I will try to answer:

  1. Why have storable foods?
  2. Why eat them if you have them on hand?
  3. Why eat them if they are past their expiration date?
  4. Why draw attention to the fact I am eating them past their expiration date?
Why have storable foods?

This is probably the most complex of the four questions, in the sense that I have to build a case to explain the necessity of having a supply of foods that can a) be stored at room temperature, b) for a long period of time, c) and prepared in less than optimal culinary settings. 

Rather than walk through all of the reasons why, let me do my best to give you a list of bullet points as food for thought:

  • You experience a power outage for several days due to severe weather or grid failure due to excessive demand.  How would you feed yourself and family for five days while you are waiting for the power to come back on?
  • Your primary bread winner loses their job, and savings are dwindling.  How would you feed your family if you couldn't afford to go to the grocery store?
  • We experience economic disruptions that cause bank holidays (Joe Biden raises that specter) or martial law due to a Hurricane Katrina or another financial emergency (Representative Brad Sherman commented on this possibility on the House floor during the height of the 2008 financial crisis; I can't make this stuff up!)
Most of you reading this have home owner's insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, car seats for your kids, first aid kits, a battery powered flashlight somewhere in your house, and maybe even a gun for protection.  Having storable foods is in essence an extension of that list.  It's an insurance policy against a number of perils.  It's nice to know you have it, even if you pray you never need to use it.

Why eat them if you have them on hand?

Do you test your smoke detectors?  Ever replace the batteries in them?  Do you visit with your insurance agent regularly to ensure you have the right coverages? (If you don't, take 15 minutes next week to do it.  It's that important.)

Eating the stored foods from time to time ensures that

  • You aren't buying and storing foods you don't like to eat.
  • Your foods haven't gone stale.
  • You are rotating your foods so that you can replace the ones you eat with fresher ones; accountants call this first in, first out, or FIFO.
  • You are taking inventory of what you have on hand and what you need to replace.
  • You know how to prepare them with minimal effort.
When you eat your stored foods from time to time, you are doing preventative maintenance on your storable food investment.  It's not enough to buy it, store it and forget it - you need to know what you have, if it's still good, and whether you can stand to eat it.

Why eat them if they are past their expiration date?

Why go to the moon?  Why add extra weight to the workout machine at the gym?  Why run a little further on your next jog?

You need to have confidence in your food supply.  You need to know that even if something is beyond an arbitrary date created by the manufacturer, it's still edible and has value to your family.  Eating older foods on occasion gives us the confidence in our storable food supply.  When things go tango uniform, you don't have to worry about foods that are out of date if you didn't rotate them quickly enough. 

The only way we learn these things is to push the envelope and be pioneers from time to time.

Why draw attention to the fact I am eating them past their expiration date?

Because if I didn't, you likely wouldn't be reading this.

I hope I'm wrong and that everything in the global economy is fine.  But there are a lot of smart people out there who think it's not.  We need to take steps - basic, within our budget and scope of what's sane kind of steps - to protect us from those risks.