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Illustration by Aaron Mckinney

How Long Will Freeze-Dried Food Keep?

Eddy's uncle Gordon claims it'll last 50 years. Gord's been working on his own recipes in his survivalist bunker, but his primary taste tester, Snuffles the cat, now barks and can only walk backwards. So Eddy called Oregon Freeze Dry, which has been making the stuff for NASA and the Army since 1963. According to spokesman Kenny Larson, the 30-year-old meals they rehydrated a while ago tasted just fine. The company guarantees its canned freeze-dry fare to be edible for 25 years, and the stuff in plastic and foil pouches for 10. The difference, says Larson, is in the can's ability to fend off moisture, light, and oxygen, all of which decay the food. Keep it perfectly protected, he says, and Uncle Gord may be correct about that 50-year shelf life.

How does it work? First the cooked food is frozen solid. Then it's put undervacuum pressure—the atmospheric equivalent of the International Space Station's orbit—which sucks 98 percent of the water right out of the spaghetti or stroganoff. Sounds cosmic, but after that traumatic weekend visit to Gord's bunker, Eddy won't touch the stuff. He prefers igunaq, an Inuit method of preserving walrus meat by burying it in the ground all fall and winter to ferment and then freeze. Eddy's road- kill raccoon igunaq is to die for.

What Material Can Replace Royalex in Canoes?

Everybody's in a huff that the company making Royalex is ceasing production. Most canoes sold for river paddling since the 1970s have been made of Royalex 'cause it handles rock collisions well. One guy who isn't crying about it is Darren Bush, owner of Rutabaga Paddlesports in Madison, Wisc.

His replacement? The same composite boats he's been selling for years. Canoes made of fiberglass, Kevlar and the like are stronger than Royalex and can be repaired almost infinitely, says Bush. "I've been beating my composite canoe against rocks all year," Bush says. "Sure it's scratched, but I can fix that." Composite canoes do cost more, but they're good value because they last longer. "Royalex is a landfill problem from the day it's made," Bush says, because once it loses its structural integrity you just have to dump it, or—Bush's preference—use it as a cattle feed trough.

Eddy's take? Skip all the newfangled materials and make your own damn boat from wood or bark. Just make sure your TuffShed is at least 16 feet long before you start, because no matter how swanky your canoe is, Mother will not be pleased to find a hole cut in the wall when she gets home from ice fishing.

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