According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, more and more people are eating their dutifully stocked freeze-dried emergency rations in their non–zombie apocalypse lives. Citing the convenience of non-spoilage, a surprising love for 10-year-old cheesy broccoli rice and, in one case, preference for a reconstituted milk-like substance over its fresh counterpart, dedicated doomsday preppers and regular ol’ folks alike are turning to these “just add water” products as everyday mealtime solutions.
Sites like Real World Survivor, Rainy Day Ready and Food Assets bank on our fear of widespread disaster resulting in bare supermarkets shelves to fuel their growing $300 million industry. Ranging from $56 for a personal three-day supply to $13,000 for a year’s worth of food for a family of four, these products provide a way to prep no matter your level of paranoia.
In order to be properly digested, dehydrated foods require the amount of water originally removed, plus a little extra to compensate for more water lost over time, which can result in a soupy, unpalatable texture. Under-hydrating these desiccated delicacies means the body has to utilize its own water reserves (a potential hazard when water is scarce) in order to process it for energy. For everyday use, when laziness is the only thing keeping you from a well-stocked supermarket, the food is most definitely safe to eat and does retain much of its original nutritional value, but may result in constipation. Let’s be real: Reconstituted food isn’t going to slide through you like a garden-fresh quinoa bowl, and, as one commenter pointed out, being backed up from these “sterile” products, devoid of the natural microbes that help you digest, can result in a fierce case of the farts.
“Your stomach won’t be right if you eat them every day,” an employee of outdoor-gear superstore REI told WSJ.
The verdict: Leave your emergency ration investment in your end-of-days bunker where it belongs, and make your own cheesy broccoli rice by adding cheese and broccoli to rice.