Keep your emergency food stored properly.

I read a heartbreaking news story recently out of Seattle, Washington. It seems that middle school students had collected 200 pounds of food that they were going to distribute to needy families in the area for the holidays. But a broken water pipe at the school destroyed it all.

Fortunately, one of the local television stations rallied its viewers to donate cash and food to replace the items. But the incident was a vivid reminder of the importance of properly storing food, especially food being stockpiled for an emergency.

Below are my top 10 food storage mistakes that people tend to make. If you can avoid these errors, your emergency food supply should remain in good shape.

1) Ignoring the importance of nutrition in the foods that are stored. This happens more often than one might think. Sometimes people are so concerned about the volume of food they store that they forget about vitamin and mineral content.

2) Using sacks or other containers that are not airtight. This is wrong for a variety of reasons. Air and moisture will greatly decrease the shelf life of stored food. In addition, containers that are not airtight increase the odds of insects or a critter getting into the food.

3) Failing to keep food containers in a cool, dry place. Heat and moisture are two of the chief enemies of stored food.

4) Failing to keep food containers out of the light. It’s best to go to the dark side when it comes to storing food. Light can deplete the vitamin content of food.

5) Storing too many items that need refrigeration. It’s very likely that a crisis will include the loss of power, which could mean that refrigerated items will spoil quickly.

6) Failing to include enough of a variety of different foods. After a couple of days of eating the exact same thing, people want some variety.

7) Failing to maintain a good balance in the foods that are stored. Make sure that the various food items provide a variety of different vitamins and minerals.

8) Failing to include at least a small percentage of “comfort” foods. In addition to satisfying a sweet tooth, comfort foods will be a big help psychologically for individuals and families in a crisis.

9) Failing to check expiration dates and rotate stored foods. In each container, organize food by expiration date. When an item’s expiration date is approaching, eat that food – or donate it to a shelter – and replace it with newer food.

10) Storing all of the food in only one location. This is the classic case of putting all of one’s eggs in one basket. If a home is destroyed in a disaster, residents will be glad that they kept food and water at a secondary location.

Do you have any food storage thoughts you’d like to share with our readers? We’d really appreciate hearing from you about this subject.

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