Cold food storage has been my sustainability nemesis for over two decades. It is the most difficult element of self-reliant living. Just ask other people who have really done it for more than 5 years.
I would have been better changing my habits away from our food supply chain and focused on more gardens and having dug a very deep root cellar with a big back hoe before I built (under) WinSol3.
So… from trying a small ‘bar’ refrigerator, to ice blocks and snow in deeply insulated coolers, to outsourcing it to the supermarket freezers (yuk!), to thermoelectric cooler… to finally a ‘real’ freezer (albeit a small one), I now have to change my whole food storage routine!
But help is on the way. A couple helpers (from helpx) who are spending weeks in WinSol’s learning center, were going through ice bottles in less than one day. There had to be a better way.
So we went into the root cellar, dug down another three feet and buried a cooler in the hole. This hole was special: It was surrounded by poured concrete (thermal mass) and polystyrene insulation. Then the double 2″ styrofoam on top, inside AND outside the cooler, sealed the deal. (pun intended). The frozen water bottles should now last 5-8 days and even more once the root cellar is completed.
The Learning Center root cellar is about 3 feet underground located under the main geodesic dome. It is also the source of the fine clay that will be used for the dome’s 1200sqft. earthen floor.
Food Storage Basics
Between your grandmother’s canning + fermentation, drying food (solar dehydrator – another upcoming blog) is probably the best way to store food. But there are so many ‘niceties’ in our mainstream food supply that need cold storage: eggs, cheese, condiments (majo++), And then if you’re an omnivore you’ll need to store fish, meats, sausages, etc.
From working on a project in Indonesia, I do remember cheese needs to be stored at 41F or less. I can achieve that with a combination of earthen tubes, thermal mass + troop (clay-in-clay) pots. When WinSol3’s root cellar is completed, insulated and sealed off – it will have a maximum temp of around 45F and the cheese will be inside the troop pots along with eggs, etc.
I think with global weirding (aka climate change), our constant drought cycles, higher morning temps and changing eating habits – that it is LONG OVERDUE to do a complete MAKEOVER of the kitchen and dining habits of westerners. Heck, even the venerable NYTimes just featured an article on this… click here…
Everything is connected – it’s a system. Starting with keeping healthy by eating good and ‘life is too short for lousy food and drink’ (thanks Engelbert!) we need to re-examine it all. From the farm to our mouths.
My personal best practice on this makeover is in conjunction with my newfound ‘lazy’ everything approach. How about lazy eating…having food drop right into your mouth… see the next blog (under construction)…