When it comes to building a food storage program, sooner or later you may need to seriously consider mail ordering at least a part of the foods you want. Even for those of us who try do as much as we can locally there are some things which are not going to be easily available in our areas. To help with this I have included below a list of food and equipment suppliers where just about anything can be found.
Because many do find it necessary or desirable to purchase through mail order I am including a few points which should be considered before shelling out the cash.
1.-- Find out how much the shipping costs are going to be. Grains and legumes are relatively cheap, but weigh a lot when bought by the five or six gallon-bucket. Because of this, shipping charges can sometimes as much as double the actual cost of the product by the time you get it to your door. Adding insult to injury is the $2.00 per round bucket fee UPS is charging. Compare carefully each company's list price and their shipping charges, combined, when deciding who to order from. Saving up for a larger order, or trying to find someone to combine orders with might enable you to make a large enough order to get a price break on shipping. You could also take a vacation in the area of the company's location or swing through the area on the way back from one. If you choose to do this, be certain to call ahead and let them know so they'll have your order ready and waiting for you. The company in the next state may be higher on the list price, but end up being cheaper than having it shipped in from six states away.
2.-- Ask the supplier when your order is going to ship. Some suppliers are way behind in order filling and you could be waiting and waiting. Slowness in shipping is not necessarily a sign of bad business. Some suppliers may drag their feet, but others may be genuinely swamped by the volume of business they are receiving because they have a good product at a fair price.
3.-- How fresh is the product you are ordering? Freshness is what it's all about when it comes to storage foods. If a food has a five year shelf life in its container then you want as much of those five years to be on your shelf, not the supplier's.
4.-- Be very clear as to how the product you are ordering is packed. Many suppliers offer identical foods packed in several different ways. Be certain the product number you are giving the salesperson is for the product packed in the manner you want.
5.-- What is the head gas analysis? If you are ordering foods packed in a nitrogen flushed oxygen free container (with or without an oxygen absorber packet added) then ask about the laboratory test results that measure the oxygen content of the head gasses in the container. This is of great importance if you are counting on the extra storage life such packaging will give you. There are but a few companies such as Perma Pak, Ready Reserve, and Walton Feed that actually produce packaged storage foods and most dealers only distribute and retail their products. If the dealer can not produce the manufacturer's test data measuring the head gasses of the products they are selling then keep looking.
6.-- If you are purchasing wheat and intend to use it primarily for bread making then be sure to ask about its protein content. The best breads need at least 12% protein and the higher the better. Also take a close look at the weight of the product. One company's five or six gallon bucket of wheat may not weigh the same as another's. The same applies to dehydrated foods such as fruits, vegetables, TVP, etc. Ask about the moisture content of bulk foods which are not already packaged for long term storage. 10% or less moisture is where you want to be for grains, legumes and most everything else.
7.-- What is the company's damage and return policy? If your carefully packed SuperPails and #10 cans get dented or cracked in shipping you'll need to have them replaced. Most mail order companies will require you to contact the shipper (such as UPS) for a claim number. The shipper may or may not require an inspection so don't destroy any packaging or containers until you know for sure.
Does anyone else know of anything else a person should look out for or ask about when mail ordering storage food?
Misc.Survivalism FAQs maintained by Alan T. Hagan, firstname.lastname@example.org
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