In Issue 28 of RECOIL OFFGRID, we wrote a feature on Operation: Dark...
Survival food harkens from two distinct histories. On the one hand you have the timeless foods that call back to historical societies, and on the other hand you have the result of sending people to the moon. From the outside, it looks like a choice between home-made granola bars versus freeze dried astronaut food. Somewhere in the middle we might find MRE's or Military rations: what our grandparents lovingly called shit-on-a-shingle. Survival food, from Maslow's hierarchy of needs, ranks high in a must-have, but are all survival foods created equal? Nutrient Survival says no.
The market of Survival Foods lives in two extremes: most of the time only a few people are interested in it, but in rare moments, such as every four years in the United States, suddenly millions are interested in stowing away whatever supplies they can gather in the event of possible, if not now likely, unrest disrupting the normal supply lines of grocery stores. If faced with starvation, surely all foods with a long shelf-life will look like they are created equal, but Nutrient Survival says otherwise.
Above: the starter kit from Nutrient Survival included some additional goodies, but the greatest asset was a chance to test an array of meals, bars, and cookies.
Fitting within the category of freeze-dried foods, Nutrient Survival addresses one problem with survival foods from a defensive mindset. The reality of survival is that merely having something to eat will only function for so long. Nutrient deficient food will keep hunger at bay, but will eventually fall short of keeping the body alive, as viruses, diseases, and even the small infections from day-to-day activities can become life-threatening overnight. Students of Ranger School are taught to maintain small things like skin-deep cuts on their fingers, and watch for even the slightest swelling while enduring the days and weeks in the field, lest they become life-threatening infections.
Nutrient Survival brings their own take on survival foods: taking advantage of the long storage capability of freeze dried food, and infused with their proprietary blend of nutrients including:
With an ingredient list that often looks similar to a daily multivitamin, Nutrient Survival has a technical list that is worthy of notice, but in the field is another question entirely.
Above: the test samples we received came in 1-person single serve meals, however, they spanned different flavor profiles for different times of the day.
It so happens that right before discovering them, we had a 10-day venture into the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado. The test subject had experience with food shortages in Ranger School, but minimal time trying out the latest options of freeze-dried foods, including Peak Refuel, Mountain House, and even brought some of his own DIY options. the environment provided a list of challenges, included limited water supply, inclement weather, and labor intensive movement such as summiting a mountain, outlasting a winter storm in a semi-sheltered valley. In this case, the food had to not only sustain the body's functions and provide enough substance to satisfy a hungry stomach before trying to sleep through the night, but also be palatable. Morale was even taken into consideration.
For context, the test subject also regularly took an advanced pack of multivitamins before going to the field, but did not keep up with them throughout the time in the wilderness, as their convenience and storage quickly became a problem. Some routines could be maintained, but during this long-term hunt, keeping track of the packages and day/night packs quickly fell to the wayside.
Peak Refuel offered the most protein per meal, with each sealed package suggesting that it offered 2 servings. This was always ignored, as each “pair of meals” ended up in a single stomach. The label looked the most attractive after a strenuous climb, hoping that the protein would end up directly in the muscles required to make the next hike. Mountain House, on the other hand, somehow served the most enjoyable meals, but we could not confirm this as it turns out their food was always consumed after good news passed through the camp. Nutrient Survival meals, however, weren't passed out across the group, but stayed with the test subject.
Above: The Southwestern Medley took a moment to absorb the required boiling water. Meals like this highlight a distinction from the normal, almost Midwestern Staple meals expected form most survival food options.
Consumed in the mornings, the meals failed to offer the comfort of home in their breakfast and lunch options, but as the cuts and scrapes of the venture added up, a noticeable reduction in swelling and sensitivity expanded day after day. Did the food taste terrible when eaten as designed? No less than expected when coming from a household that is almost foreign to processed foods. But even as the saying goes, it was received better than fast food breakfast sandwiches would have been.
The payoff didn't come quick. The immediate shock of the wilderness stung the eyes and the muscles, all the more so after almost three seasons of lockdown. Nutrient Survival foods come in two forms: classic freeze dried meals, and quick snack bars and cookies which taste something like an awkward-but-flavorful fusion between protein shake, CLIF bar, and home-baked goodness. The bar-meals still had the biting taste of popular meal-bars, and left an after-taste like common protein powder, but in the mornings, while scaling a cliff face, or down-climbing under a head-lamp, they quickly turned the struggle of an early morning movement into an ambitious pursuit of something more. Nutrient Survival foods are water-dependent. That doesn't set them aside, however. It means if you're relying on them for the long term, have a good supply of potable water.
After a few days of winter storms, and scaling mountains, the value of Nutrient Survival meals began to take form. If playing the long game, their meals only added value over time. Given, few people investing in survival foods are interested in holding out for only a week or perhaps even a month, Nutrient Survival has both the short-term and long term in mind.
Nutrient Survival tackles the survival food problem of adding a helpful cocktail of additives to make their meals both edible and vital to a survival food supply. Where they fail is on one single line. If you or your family is violently allergic to dairy, look elsewhere.
As a valuable supplement to an already established food supply, look into their meal-bars. Altogether, the lineup of Nutrient Survival can outfit a family itself, but when considering a variety of foods does wonders for morale, look at them as a valuable asset, not an exclusive provider. While their meals will cover a range of traditional meals, spanning what Americans have come to expect from Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, we suggest limiting them to the first two, and handle boosting snacks in between. Depending on where you live, and your social milieu, dinners will likely have a greater expectancy of larger, heartier meals, and although Nutrient Survival's meals can fill this roll, the nutrients offered serve better both throughout the day, and in the morning, where they can impact one's performance throughout.
You can find Nutrient Survival at: https://nutrientsurvival.com/
Their instagram is here @nutrientsurvival
All Photography by Samantha Lauraina.
Her work can be found on Instagram @samanthalauraina