I have had the opportunity to eat a wide variety of “field” or “Emergency” rations over the years. From military C rations in Vietnam to the whole line of MRE’s including today’s varieties (which I can buy in military commissaries), foreign military rations, and civilian freeze-dried foods. I am always looking for efficient and tasty long-term storable food, so when James Tolboe at Valley Food Storage asked me to test one of their products, I happily agreed.
In a few days I received their test packet and it was their White Bean and Lime Chili. This immediately sparked my interest as I am a chili lover, but had not heard of this recipe. I was immediately impressed with the packaging. The ingredients came in a tough, resealable Mylar bag. I tend to think about my emergency rations from the point of view of bugging out and field survival and this package fits the bill. I especially like the resealable feature as the bag is marked as being two servings. You could eat half now, reseal and the other half later. You could then use the empty bag to store other small items. It is also marked as having up to 25years storage life. I think that this is an important feature. If you want to know in depth how they package their foods, check this page on their website.
O.K. great packaging, quality manufacturing and control is important. But where the rubber meets the road is the taste test. As I mentioned, I have learned to survive on many varieties of food. I am also not a finicky eater. But I want my long-term survival food to be as tasty as possible, as I consider that a major moral issue. By the time my tour in Vietnam was almost over I was so fed up with “Charlie Rats” that I was usually only eating the canned fruit and crackers.
So I followed the instructions and cooked this meal by bringing 2 1/4 cups of water to a boil, whisking the ingredients in, turned the heat down to a gently boil for 15 min, and let sit for another 5. The aroma was savory, but now it was time for the all important taste test (drum roll please). It was GOOD! I mean tasty GOOD! The beans were thoroughly cooked, and it was spicy enough to be interesting, but not too spicy and the consistency was just right! If all of their menus are this good, they have got a winning product for sure!
Although marked as two servings, it would be with extra additions, but stand alone, it makes a great single meal. The only suggestion I might have is that they consider making a run with subdued packaging for the military market, as G.I. Joe and Jane are always looking for quality foodstuffs to supplement their MREs.
If you are looking for a quality, long-term food storage product that actually tastes good, for a reasonable price, I highly recommend that you get on their website and request some free samples they offer and try them for yourself. Bon Apetit!
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