In 1898, the Spanish–American War began in
the aftermath of the explosion of USS Maine in Havana Harbor, Cuba, leading
to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence.
One of the most important results of the war was the
liberation of Cuba. In addition, the war brought prominence to
larger-than-life figures such as future U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s
However, like many wars, U.S. troops spent a great deal of
time avoiding threats to their health that wartime living conditions
oftentimes brought on.
One of the most serious dangers for the soldiers came in the
form of 337 tons of refrigerated beef and 198,508 tons of canned meat.
According to soldiers, the meat was so unfit to eat that it
was giving soldiers dysentery and other illnesses.
While exact figures are unknown, some estimates claim the
tainted beef contributed to the deaths of as many as 2,500 men.
At the time, the contract for the meat was arranged quickly
and at the lowest price by the Secretary of War.
In order to keep the contract in the U.S., three big
meatpacking corporations in Chicago were selected to fill the order.
However, the meatpacking companies allegedly took advantage
of the situation, including the Army’s need for large amounts of cheap
beef, by cutting corners and reducing quality on the meat they shipped to
As a result, most of the product arriving in Cuba was poorly
preserved, chemically adulterated, and already spoiled, making it toxic and
dangerous to consume.
To make matters worse, the Army was already dealing with
thousands of soldiers who were weakened by the epidemics of malaria and
yellow fever, which were ravaging the American troops.
Overtime, part of the blame was given to the Cuban climate,
which some claimed had caused the canned meat to spoil faster than
Another theory was that the Army’s rations had been
improperly balanced in favor of meat and that what had really been making
the soldiers ill was malnourishment.
In short, the meatpacking companies didn’t face any
consequences for their lackluster product and the scandal never led to any
Now, even if you don’t serve in the military, the reality is
that food-borne illness or food poisoning, affects about one in six
Americans every year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates
that of these cases, there are 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths
The thing is, most people’s pantry has canned food in it,
including canned meat, because it’s a simple item to grab to fight off
starvation in a disaster scenario.
In addition, canned meat can be purchased cheaply, has a
long shelf life and is low maintenance.
With that being said, when it comes to canned meat for food
storage, here are the top meats and brands to consider purchasing next time
you add to your supply.
Spam. Obviously, Spam is known for its highly processed
manufacturing, however it has many qualities that make it perfect for food
For example, it can be prepared many different ways and
provides protein that is ready to eat at the pull of a metal ring.
Spam is made from pork and ham and each 12 oz can provides
42 grams of protein.
Tyson canned chicken. Chicken is a neutral flavor with high protein content.
In other words, it’s the type of food you can eat often
without getting tired of it since you can prepare it many different ways.
This is the ideal meat to add protein on top of your beans,
rice, or other easy to prepare foods.
A 10 oz can provides about 65 grams of protein.
Kirkland canned roast beef. Beef is king in terms of protein and
Plus, its simple to prepare and versatile because it can be
combined with so many different foods such as potatoes or rice.
Beef is easily digestible, has quality nutrients, and about
a two-year shelf life. A 12 oz can contains about 60 grams of protein.
StarKist Solid White Tuna. Fish has a whole host of benefits
including omega-3 fats. It also has mercury, so make sure you don’t make it
your only canned meat.
Fish is important for normal brain and nerve function and
for heart health.
Plus, canned tuna usually has a shelf life up to 5 years and
a 5 oz can contains about 25 grams of protein.
DAK canned ham. Canned ham is full of flavor and protein. It can be
consumed either cold or hot and is easily added to other things like eggs,
rice and vegetables.
Unlike spam, which contains pieces of different types of
meat, DAK is 100% ham with a typical shelf life of 4-5 years.
A 16 oz can contains about 72 grams of protein.
At the end of the day, canned meat is one of several ways to
build up your food storage.
Ideally, you want to build up your canned meat supply with a
diverse selection so you never get tired of eating the same thing.
Lastly, always remember to check the
expiration dates as most canned meat will last between 2-5 years, so you do
want to eat it and rotate through your supply.
We've always stockpile canned goods but more recently have taken to buying freeze dried food which has a longer shelf life & takes up less space.
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