When I got into bed that night, I noticed I was feeling a little off. Though I’d technically consumed enough calories, my stomach was still gnawing with hunger, and when I woke up the next morning, I felt energyless. I phoned Dr. Lisa Young, a New York–based nutritionist and adjunct professor at NYU, with a question: Is it really possible to live off freeze-dried food?
Depends on the size of your family and the time period in which you’ll use it. Once mylar or buckets are open, they are susceptible to many organisms that will make your food inedible. Double to triple serving sizes max. Filling tummies is fairly easy. Doing it safely and palateably is different. Also, your family will need variety to keep harmony. Much of our emotional well-being depends on the gut.
This country is one of the safest in the world. We have no killer animals. We don’t have earthquakes. There are no major tsunamis. We don’t really have to prep for a huge natural disaster – and there’s very little you could do to prepare for a nuclear event even if you wanted to – so we prep more pragmatically. Suppose you lose your job and money’s an issue. Or the electrical grid goes out and the food chain goes down and all of a sudden every man and his dog is arguing over a bag of sugar. Do you have your own supplies? Do you have the means to cook? And what about keeping warm – could you make a fire? Some of us buy food through an app; groceries are delivered to our front doors. Do people know how to survive without electricity?
After 9/11, my dad filled a duffel bag with some energy bars, a couple gallons of water, some penicillin, and a map. Amid scaremongering headlines about imminent anthrax and “dirty bomb” attacks in the city, he wanted to have some supplies on hand in case we needed to get out of Brooklyn fast. Were he to assemble such a bag today, he’d likely stumble on a number of companies promising a more wholesale brand of disaster preparedness: a box full of shelf-stable freeze-dried meals, to be revived from their dessicated state with the addition of boiled water.