How to Bury Food
Because no one can take what they cannot find
This website is dedicated to the protection of your most precious belongings by providing you with the information necessary for safely caching valuables underground. When one normally hears the term “valuables,” one doesn’t normally think of food. Food is something that the average American takes for granted; most of us have at least a few meals or snacks readily available in our homes. Food can easily be found in grocery stores, restaurants, department stores, gas stations or the vending machines at work. Digging the spare change out of your car’s console can quickly get you a couple cheeseburgers at McD’s or a few Snickers bars from a convenient store. Hunters and fishermen can find food, gardeners can make food and if you really get desperate, you can swing by a friend or family member’s house for a bite to eat.
With the rapid upswing in food prices and inflation, more Americans are turning to hunting, fishing and gardening as a method of easing the grocery bills. Survivalists and preppers are even stockpiling large amounts of food in anticipation of higher prices, food shortages, natural disasters or an economic collapse. Some experts have indeed predicted massive food shortages in the near future and with that in mind, I’ve decided to write a post about caching food underground.
I’ve been burying things underground for about 30 years and I can assure you that caching food anywhere outdoors presents a problem like none other. Smell. Smell is not an issue with guns, gold, knives, photographs, hard drives, blankets, silver, ammunition, vehicle titles, laptops, or camping and survival gear. Animals, any and every animal, has superior olfactory senses and can usually smell food from great distances and through several feet of dirt. Once an animal “catches wind” of food, they will usually stop at nothing to reach it.
This brings me to two important points about burying food. One; you should cache it inside a steel or aluminum container. The PVC pipe caches that I’m so fond of are worthless because any number of mammals from mice, squirrels, raccoons or coyotes can chew through the rubber endcaps if they smell your food. The same goes for Tupperware or Rubbermaid containers and Lexan dry-boxes. Animals can be relentless and while many preppers do use plastic containers to successfully cache their food, I suppose it’s a quirk of mine but I just wouldn’t use plastic. Depending on how much food you keep in stock will dictate what type of container you use; military surplus ammo cans, old pickup truck toolboxes and steel 55 gallon drums are ideal; provided you keep them from rusting.
The second important point is that the food needs to be factory sealed inside it’s original container. Don’t open, un-zip or un-seal anything and don’t try to bury any type of jerky or cubed beef steaks. Dehydrated foods are the best; if I remember correctly, they have a shelf life of 25+ years and have no detectable odor when left in the original packaging. These two qualities make them the number one candidate for long-term underground storage. The photographs below show two examples of a popular brand of dehydrated foods. I’ve personally eaten these, they are filling, tasty and easy to prepare.
Another good option is military issue MRE’s. They are rated for a 5-year shelf life but I know from personal experience that they remain edible for much longer. Like dehydrated foods, they are not cheap, but they are made and packaged specifically for long term storage. They are also loaded with energy-packing vitamins and nutrients.
There is a third option for burying foods that is just as viable as dehydrated foods and MRE’s; canned foods. Whether you buy canned vegetables and spam from the supermarket or can your own vegetables from the garden; canned foods do not have expiration dates, only “best-if-used-by” dates. Remember that if you’re using glass canning jars, you must bury below the frost line to help prevent breakage or cracking of the glass. If you are storing only metal cans that you bought from the supermarket, feel free to cache them in PVC tubes or plastic drums.
Unless you’re storing dehydrated foods, you’ll want to rotate your stockpile of foods if possible. Always check the seal of a glass jar by making sure the lid isn’t “popped” and don’t eat from a metal can if it’s swollen or bulged out. Pack your glass jars with old bedsheets or bath towels to prevent damage while moving your cache.
I chose “Because no one can take what they cannot find” as a slogan when I started this project simply because in 30 years no one has ever found anything that I’ve buried or helped others bury. But animals are different when it comes to burying food because they can find your cache. As I mentioned before; food smells, and the worst mistake you can make is to underestimate an animal’s sense of smell. If a raccoon for example, smells some beef jerky in a 50 caliber ammo can, he’ll dig it up and drag it away. Just because the raccoon can’t open the ammo can won’t prevent the loss of your food cache. I knew a guy in Tennessee who buried food in ammo cans, then chained and padlocked them to a large tree root before covering them. It’s an unlikely occurrence and an amusing recollection, but something to consider nonetheless.
My last tip would be to suggest placing mothballs inside your can, box or drum with your food; then scattering mothballs in the hole before placing your cache. Mothballs are the greatest thing for repelling any type of creature; insects, reptiles and mammals alike will steer clear for quite some time.