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What's the most efficient long-term diet in terms of weight and volume?
April 24, 2012 10:41 AM   Subscribe

What's the most efficient long-term diet in terms of weight and volume?

I'm packing for a trip of indefinite duration, and I have a limited allotment of volume and mass. Assuming typical daily Earth-based mental and physical activities, no food-related psychological issues (including preference for variety, novel protein revulsion, or foods from home), typical preservation ability, and without considering waste or cost, what should I pack, and in what ratios, to stay alive and physically healthy for the longest possible time?

Bonus points if your answer includes a pill that expands in the stomach for volume or roughage.
posted by meetar to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you have an unlimited supply of potable water on this trip?
posted by Greg Nog at 10:46 AM on April 24, 2012


A bit more practical than you're looking for, but on topic: What food to pack for ultralight backpacking.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:48 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Probably pemmican. (The real stuff, not the brand-name.) Apparently you can live on the stuff for a long time, but I think that depends on whether or not it includes organ meats and berries and sufficient sodium.
posted by sportbucket at 10:49 AM on April 24, 2012


At least two people have tried and failed to live on monkey chow but their failures were more due to "food-related psychological issues" than physical health.
posted by ChrisHartley at 10:53 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Follow-up: I can't vouch for the science, but paleo people say the only disadvantage of a pemmican-only diet would be extreme boredom.
posted by sportbucket at 10:54 AM on April 24, 2012


I've gone a week+ (road trip) on beef jerky and various nutrition bars (Clif, Zone, etc). For liquids, I drink a lot of Crystal Lite-packet flavored water and microbrews en route.
posted by notsnot at 11:17 AM on April 24, 2012


Assuming typical daily Earth-based mental and physical activities,

Earth-based? Are you going to space? Or writing about it?
posted by Patbon at 11:19 AM on April 24, 2012


Do you have an unlimited supply of potable water on this trip?

Bring a sheet of durable black plastic. Assuming you've already brought a mug or pot of some kind and can find rocks onsite, the plastic sheet is all you really need to purify your own urine with a solar still. That will work long term, since it will gather moisture from the air as well.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:04 PM on April 24, 2012


I've done equal parts jerky and nuts, plus vitamin tablets. The nuts might not even be all that necessary, but jerky is expensive. And for multi-day walks where I have to carry my own water too, I make it chocolate milk instead of water. It's equally hydrating, and the calories (and calcium and protein) mean you can cut back on the food you carry accordingly.
posted by lollusc at 6:33 PM on April 24, 2012


It seems the need for variety is a much greater problem than I'd imagined. The monkey chow people seem to last about 7 days, tops. The ISS menu is on a 28-day cycle.

And even if you can stick it out on a reduced diet, according to those paleo pages there's a problem with "failure to thrive," probably also due in part to psychological factors.

Of course water is very heavy, so the ability to collect it from environmental sources is a great benefit. It seems a solar still would work best in stationary situations; it's also heavily dependent on environmental factors.

The backpackers have an interesting semi-extreme case; the extra caloric demands reveal nutritional constraints.
posted by meetar at 7:57 PM on April 24, 2012


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