Whether you choose to accept it or not, human cases of food allergies are on the rise. While the reasons why this is happening is a debate for another forum, the plain and simple fact is that you or someone within your circle of caring may very well develop a food allergy – and it won’t necessarily start at birth – it could develop at any time.
By Drew, contributing author to Survival Cache and SHTFblog
My wife developed concurrently a gluten allergy and a lactose intolerance. This occurred suddenly when she was about 30 years old, and it took a battery of tests and throwing a dart at the diet board to figure out what was going on, since the two allergies formed at the same general time. The symptoms are reportedly pretty wretched – crippling stomach pain, headaches, and severe diarrhea with accompanying dehydration, with onsets of the symptoms giving her almost no notice to get to the appropriate location to take care of the task at hand. As a consequence, her diet is severely limited, and a lot of time is spent in the grocery store aisle carefully reading labels. Dairy is not a huge issue to avoid, but gluten is sneaky and can be found even in foods labelled “gluten free”, if the product is even processed in a plant that works with gluten-based products. It’s a less-than-fun game with no winners – especially when it comes time to prep for long-term survival.
All of this means a couple things for me: one) I’ve sampled pretty much every gluten free food option there is, and two) prepping long-term storage food for unforeseen disasters is a complete pain in the posterior. Thankfully, the seriousness of gluten and other food allergies is starting to come to light with a corresponding semi-lackluster (but honest and definitely increasing) response from the market in general. However, a person or family with a need to keep an eye on the fixin’s still must struggle to find dedicated products with value. And when you whittle the available products down to a niche market such as specifically designed long-term storage food, choices are slim indeed – making me wonder if a subject with a gluten allergy would rather wish they had punched out when the bomb dropped instead of being caught in a bunker eating the same meal of bulk freeze dried beef cubes, peas, and rice for four years straight.
Enter Valley Food Storage
I was fortunate enough to be contacted by Valley Food Storage with an offer for a free sample of their freeze-dried food offerings (which you can get yourself on their website). I clicked over to Valley Food Storage’s website, and was pleasantly surprised when I saw that they have a dedicated suite of offerings that are specifically gluten free. (They also have other specific dietary-considerate options, to include lactose free, soy free, and vegetarian.) Admittedly, a large chunk of the products on the GF page are more side dishes or desserts instead of full entrees, but there are a few selections available to make a decent day’s full meal plan. This is refreshing – I have found that more often than not, a freeze dried food manufacturer’s “Gluten Free” options are pretty much a packet of dried strawberries or something similar.
Also noticing that Valley Food Storage happily boasts that all their food products are 100% natural ingredients, with no fillers, GMOs, artificial flavors, preservatives, fillers, or MSG, I took stock of what was available and requested three packets, which Valley Food Storage was very generous to provide for this review: Freeze Dried Apple Oatmeal, Freeze Dried Blueberries, and Freeze Dried Chicken Teriyaki. Just a couple of days later, a package full of dehydrated goodness was in my mailbox.
I was hoping to scoop up my wife and son and tromp out into the woods and start a fire for the proper testing field testing ambiance, but alas, my preferred scenario was not in the cards. Therefore, the “field” consisted of my work office, and “testing” comprised of dumping water in bowls of freeze-dried food while watching the clock drain away my lunch break minute by minute. I soldiered on for science and for you, dear reader.
Apple Oatmeal For Breakfast
My first victim was the Apple Oatmeal. Opening up the bag and inspecting the contents confirmed my suspicions that the Valley Food Storage Apple Oatmeal would indeed look just like instant oatmeal offerings from other companies. A whiff told me it smelled really great, and so I poured the requisite serving size (½ cup) into a bowl I keep handy for eating occasions, and dumped in the proper amount of hot water (also ½ cup). While I absent-mindedly stirred the whole goopy mess up, I read the ingredients. Not much there – oats, sugar, apple granules, and non-fat milk powder. That’s it.
Apparently less is more, because the first spoonful was, without any hyperbole, as good or better than any other “instant oatmeal” I’ve ever tried. I wolfed down the first bowl and decided against another as I noticed the 15 grams of sugar per serving. However, I did make a bowl of the gummily delicious oatmeal up later for my wife to try, and the Valley Food Storage Apple Oatmeal received an official thumbs-up…once she recovered from me stuffing a spoon laden with oatmeal in her mouth with little to no warning.
Lunch: Freeze Dried Chicken Teriyaki
For my lunchtime course, I opened up the mylar bag containing the Freeze Dried Chicken Teriyaki. The directions noted that I should combine the ingredients with water and then boil the whole works, but i just went with standard survivalist behavior and combined the bag contents with the called-for amount of already-hot water, and let sit. After the requisite time had passed, I tried out the Chicken Teriyaki. It was kinda more like soup than I thought it would be – probably because I didn’t boil the ingredients together. I added more Chicken Teriyaki and let it sit for a bit longer.
12 minutes later, when I finally tried the meal, I was very pleased. What I thought were chicken chunks were actually bits of very sweet pineapple, and a mild, slightly peppery wasabi-ish flavor twinge really rounded out the palette. Again, no exaggeration here – I really, really enjoyed the Valley Food Storage Freeze Dried Chicken Teriyaki. The wife did not try it, since I actually demolished the bag over a few days at work for lunch. I’m going to bet she would have liked it. We’ll go with that.
Dessert – Freeze Dried Blueberries
Up for “dessert” (more like a at-desk snack) I tried out some of the Valley Food Storage Freeze Dried Blueberries (ingredients: 100% Blueberries) First up, I prepared by soaking in water per the directions, and found that the soaking time on the package seemed to be a general guideline – some were mushy, some were still a bit crunchy. It seemed to be a bit of a crapshoot which berries absorbed the water but they were pretty good. I drank the blue-twinged water that resulted from the blueberry soak, since I imagine it had a few nutrients there for me to use, and I’d likely be following a similar routine if I was eating these berries in a survival or disaster situation. Not bad.
Also read: Freeze Dried Foods As Part Of Your Preps
I found, however, that the best way (in my opinion) to eat these freeze dried blueberries was just simply to reach in the bag and pop them directly into my mouth, no soaking involved. It was a crisp, tasty snack that lasts quite a while – there’s a lot of blueberries in that there bag! Pro tip: combine the blueberries with the Valley Food Storage Apple Oatmeal for a little slice of freeze-dried mouth heaven. (be sure to prepare the two separately , THEN combine)
Oh yeah…when my wife tried them, well, I didn’t get the bag back. The Freeze Dried Blueberries were a runaway hit. Absolutely get you some!
It’s really superb that Valley Food Storage is addressing the needs of people with specialized diets in such a great, tasty manner. The food itself once prepared is outstanding, and the ingredients are simple and delicious. I absolutely love the fact that no preservatives or multi-syllable BS ingredients make their way into the packages – these Valley Food Storage meals are just plain food – nothing artificial or nasty added in the name of preserving the food for your bunker pantry. Don’t be fooled, though – properly stored, these Valley Food Storage freeze dried meals will last for many years (25 of them, according to the packaging) in your supply cache.
I will say that the serving size on the packages did seem to be a bit subjective; you’ll need to review your dietary and caloric needs before you take the serving quantities on the package as holy writ. A 1/3 cup serving of the Apple Oatmeal only provides 140 calories, so if one serving of this specific meal is what you were planning on tiding you over through a high-activity day, you’re gonna be a hurtin’ unit. All the dietary information for every Valley Food Storage product is available on their website, so you can review and plan ahead. You can also call and chat with the VFS team over the phone, and they’ll help you work out a specific food plan for you.
Also, be sure to check out Valley Food Storage’s other offerings – to include pre-built 72-hour kits, food subscription services, heirloom seeds, 30- and 55 – gallon blue water storage drums, a few knives, paracord, water purification tablets, and even financing for large volume orders.
So I’ll wrap up this little review by saying I wholeheartedly endorse the direction Valley Food Storage is going with their products, and I truly appreciate the fact that I now have viable options to feed the people in my family with special dietary needs. The Gluten Free offerings from Valley Food Storage are absolutely delicious and made with natural ingredients- and they are the direction I’ll be heading towards when it comes time to re-fill my long-term food storage larder. There’s not much I can say about freeze-dried foods in general that hasn’t been said before, but the Valley Food Storage offerings are a cut above the rank and file and are definitely worth your attention…especially if you have dietary restrictions.