TRUST HONEYVILLE WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY
Hearty, freeze-dried meals are portable taste treats.
About three weeks ago, I received an e-mail from my editor asking me to do a product review on the Honeyville company and its long-term storage line of foods. The e-mail caught me off guard, because he knows I don’t often do product reviews. If I mention a product in an article, it is because I use it, have used it in the past or have seen it used. If I don’t like a product, I generally don’t write about it at all. Nevertheless, after some serious thought, I informed him I would write the article. All I needed to do was get my hands on the product. I decided to do my homework on Honeyville while I waited for the product to arrive. Before now, I had never heard of the company; and, to be honest, I had some serious doubts. Between the growing emergency preparedness trend, the zombie apocalypse craze and the get-back-tonature movement, freeze-dried, vacuum-sealed food companies are popping up out of nowhere. Until I dug deeper, I figured that Honeyville was just another Johnny-come-lately packaged food company. I was surprised when I learned it has a rich history that dates back to the 1940s (see the sidebar on page 96). This gave me some hope, but I still had to wait until I got the product to find out for sure. The box from Honeyville finally arrived, and I opened it to inspect its contents. Within the box were three packages of product and a letter from Brenden Haueter, director of marketing for Honeyville. The samples I received included Rice With Teriyaki Chicken, Mexican Style Rice With Chicken and Rotini Chicken Primavera With Zucchini. Obviously, chicken comprises the protein part of these meals. The letter from Brenden basically explained the labeling on the packages. The packages I received were labeled “Hearty Food Storage,” which was Honeyville’s original line. Going forward, they will be labeled as “Hearty Outdoors,” the company’s new brand. It is the same food under different branding that is intended to attract more hunters, fishermen, campers—and yes, survivalists and preppers. For me, and I am sure for most American Survival Guide readers, the label is the least important part. What really matters is what is inside and how we can make it work to suit our needs. That is what the rest of this article will cover.
The size and weight are of great importance to me. Right off the bat, I noticed the size of
THE SAMPLES I RECEIVED INCLUDED RICE WITH TERIYAKI CHICKEN, MEXICAN STYLE RICE WITH CHICKEN AND ROTINI CHICKEN PRIMAVERA WITH ZUCCHINI. OBVIOUSLY, CHICKEN COMPRISES THE PROTEIN PART OF THESE MEALS.
the packages that had been sent to me. Each package provides enough food for four servings. With a dry weight averaging 8.5 ounces, these packages are, for me, a bit large for carrying on a scout or in my bug-out bag. Granted, you can open the package and separate the food into individual bags, but that kind of defeats the benefit of the long-term packaging. Other product lines of survival food I have used contain enough for two servings, at the most. I made a call to Brendan and explained my concern. Brendan assured me that the company realizes this, so the new product line will also be offered in smaller sizes. The four-serving size is based on people storing food away for emergencies. That explains a great deal. With that said, the Hearty Outdoors food would be a good fit for use at your base camp or shelter and/or if you were trying to feed more than two people at a time.
The entire reason for packaging is to keep the contents safe from damage—and, in the case of emergency survival food, to keep the product fresh for an extended period of time. The last thing you want is to have your food container fail while you are on the move. The Honeyville food packaging seems to be able to prevent this. The package is a fairly nondescript foil. In addition, without me being able to perform a long-term storage test, it looks capable of keeping the food safe from damage or spoilage. The top corner has a notch for easy opening. This is a good thing: As anyone who has had to open one with their knife can verify, you usually end up with a big mess. After opening, the package can be closed via its durable zip-seal. While this will help preserve any remaining contents of the package for a limited time, once the package is open, no matter how secure the re-sealing method, the contents are compromised by the elements. I wouldn’t open a package unless I were prepared to use everything in it. Of course, this would not be a problem with the smaller, two-serving packages.
Preparation is pretty easy. It is made even easier by having the directions printed right on the package.
Simply open the package, add boiling water to the contents, and allow it to heat and rehydrate for about 10 minutes. Everything can be accomplished right in the pouch. It doesn’t get any simpler than that, right? To prepare the entire four servings the package holds, you will need 2 2/3 cups of boiling water. If you are only preparing two servings, you obviously cut that in half. The problem here is that the typical military-style canteen and most water bottles you would carry in your pack only hold 1 quart (4 cups) of water or fewer. If you are on the move, you will need to use over half the water you are carrying to prepare one meal. Another issue is that this food requires you to use boiling water (nowhere does it say anything different). This means you will need to stop and either make a fire or use some other heat source to boil the water. It is an entirely different story back at base camp. After a day of scouting for additional supplies, there is nothing better than a hot meal. It is good for morale, so this is where this product would really shine. In base camp, you can afford to have a fire or stove going to allow you to heat the water; in fact; you should be boiling your water before drinking it anyway.
When you are picking food to go into your emergency supplies, you need to be as diligent as you would be with the food you normally eat: If you are allergic to certain foods or have health problems, you need to take that into consideration. Remember that in an emergency situation,
medical help might not be available—so don’t put yourself into that situation. I am not too concerned about calories, because in a survival situation, calories are what will help keep you alive. Besides, you’ll probably burn most of them off. What does concern me is the amount of salt included in survival rations. In every package I received from Honeyville, I found that each serving provides from 23 to 25 percent of the daily recommended intake of sodium. Yes, the human body needs salt; and yes, you will expel salt through sweat, but where do you draw the line? While this is in the range of similar Mountain House meals, some other foods I have in my stores average well under 20 percent. The Hearty Outdoors meals could be used as your primary food source, but it will most likely be a supplement to other supplies you’ve assembled for long-term nutritional needs. If you are relying entirely upon this or any other emergency food, you have other problems that are much greater than too much salt. That said, it’s important to note that all the meat used in Hearty Outdoors products—the protein source that will keep you functioning—comes from Usda-inspected and -approved sources, usually located in the United States. Whether it is chicken, beef or pork, you know it is safe to eat.
Taste is one of those things that is up to the individual. I found the taste of these products was well above that of other freeze-dried food I have used; in fact, I actually like it. While some emergency food tastes a great deal like cardboard, the Hearty Outdoors products are very good. Of course, when choosing emergency survival food, I am looking more for what will keep me alive than how good it tastes. However, I have to admit that this food was tasty.
Hearty Outdoors products will find a home in my supplies in anticipation of an emergency situation. I hope I will never have to rely solely upon my emergency survival supplies to keep my family and myself alive. I hope I will be able to hunt, fish, grow and forage for the food we need and only rely upon these rations to make up the difference. Until you can get control of the situation, whatever that might be, you will have to fall back on your supplies. The products from Honeyville’s Hearty Outdoors brand will keep you and your family alive—and do so without giving up the luxury and morale boost of tasty meals. After all, isn’t that what it is all about?
i Below: When hunting, you should always bring along some food in case you come up short or if you want to turn a meal in the woods into a feast.
i Right: At base camp, a propane stove such as this Camp Chef Everest enables you to heat plenty of water for larger volumes of food.
h Left: As long as you can heat up water, you have a meal.
h Above, left: The resealable zip closure allows you to take what you need and then close the package to protect the unused food.
h Above, right: Inside the package you will find all sorts of freezedried goodness. This meal uses chicken as its protein source.
i Below, right: Chicken is one of the primary protein sources in Honeyville meals. i Below, left: Pork is a great protein source and is found in some of Honeyville’s meals.
i Right: Beef and dairy, almost all of which is sourced in the United States, are also components of some of Honeyville’s meals.
Right: In addition to its tasty survival meals, Honeyville offers a wide selection of grains, baking ingredients, canned foods and other products to stock your prepper pantry,
Above: The Honeyville plant in Rancho Cucamonga, California, is a very busy place.
Left: The Honeyville plant processes a wide variety of foods, grains and meals—all to high quality and purity standards.