One of the most common ways for people to store great quantities of food over the long term is to invest in canned foods.
This is because buying canned foods is widely perceived as an inexpensive way to stockpile food that can last for a long time on the shelf while preserving its nutritional value.
There’s no denying that canning is a proven food storage method. Canning has been around since the late 1700s when it was utilized as a way to provide a safe food source to sailors and soldiers who were away on long military campaigns.
If you walk into any grocery store or supermarket nowadays, you’ll find long rows of canned meats and vegetables that can be bought for super cheap.
Buying canned foods is a perfectly viable way of storing your food with many advantages. But there are a few cons as well, which is why stockpiling your pantry or basement with canned foods should not be the only component of your food storage strategy.
Pros Of Canned Food
Here are the primary pros of canned foods:
Most cans of meat or vegetables can be bought for only a couple of dollars, if not even less. You can buy large quantities of cans and accumulate a decent supply of food without spending a fortune.
Stores that offer special deals or discounts when buying in bulk will lower the cost even further.
Storing canned foods won’t be difficult so long as you have enough storage space. All you have to do is stack your cans over one another in your basement or pantry.
Just make sure that you store the cans in an environment at normal room temperature and that’s free of moisture.
“What kind of foods can you buy in a can?” you might ask. Here’s a better question: “what kind of foods can you not buy in a can?”
From meats to fruits to vegetables to dairy to pasta to soups and even to dairy, all of the major food groups are covered when it comes to canned foods. Even after the grid goes down, with canned foods it’s easy to put a complete meal together to ensure you’re eating a balanced diet.
It’s a common misconception that canning food will reduce its nutritional value.
In reality, when you put food in a can at the peak of its ripeness right after it’s been harvested, it will preserve the same nutritional value as if it were fresh or frozen. You won’t compromise nutrition when you eat canned meat or vegetables.
Long Shelf Life
In the right storage conditions, dry and room temperature, canned foods can last for several years without losing their flavor or nutritional value.
You Can Repurpose The Cans
Throwing away the can after consuming or preparing the food inside is a major mistake. You can reuse the cans for a multitude of purposes, including for storage purposes, to make homemade candles, or as small planters in your garden.
Related: Survival Uses For Soda Cans
Cons Of Canned Food
Based on the above, investing in canned foods may seem like the perfect food storage solution. But there are a few cons of canned foods that you need to be aware of as well:
High Salt And Sugar Levels
One reason why canned foods are so long lasting is because of the high number of preservatives. Most canned foods will have high salt and sugar content as part of the canning process.
Consuming excessive salt can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure levels or put you at increased risk of heart-related issues. This is why you should look for canned foods that are labeled as either ‘no salt’ or ‘low salt.’
Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can likewise lead to health problems. Canned fruits in particular will come with high sugar levels. To get around this, look for canned fruits that come stored with fruit juice or water rather than syrup.
Risk Of Botulism (With Damaged Cans)
You need to be extremely careful about avoiding canned foods that have any signs of leakage, cracks, or dents.
Cans that are damaged in this way will put you at increased risk of botulism, which is a severe food borne bacteria that will attack your body’s nervous system.
If the can has been damaged, there’s a possibility that the Clostridium botulinum spores that cause botulism could germinate inside the cans.
High Levels Of BPA (In Some Cans)
BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical that is commonly added to many commercially available foods. BPA is used as a lining to help stop cans from breaking or corroding to extend the shelf life of the food.
While useful in this regard, there’s also a risk that the BPA chemicals can get mixed in with the food that’s been stored in the can.
Some studies have linked BPA to increased risk of Type II diabetes and heart-related health problems. It’s for these reasons that the FDA banned the use of BPA in packaging meant for infants and small children. Today, it’s estimated that around 10% of canned foods in total have BPA in their packaging.
To be on the safe side, research the brands of canned foods that you’re buying and confirm that they don’t have BPA lining in them.
Canned foods that have been stored for years will likely have a metallic taste (or aftertaste) to them to some degree. This doesn’t necessarily affect the quality or the safety of the food, but it’s something to think about.
Canned foods are a cheap and efficient way to store large quantities of food. This is why investing in canned foods should be one of the strategies you use as part of your food storage plans, but it should not be the only one.
Besides canned foods, you can also invest in buying dry food (such as pasta or white rice) or in freeze-drying or pressure canning your own foods as well.
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