When is a fridge (not) necessary?
Hiking trip or whatever, but worried about not having a fridge or coolbox?
This is a short reflection on our personal experience of living without fridge for three months already. "Our personal experience" includes me as a person and my adult German Shepherd DOG.
What we are used to
In (sort of) "developed" countries we all are used to having a fridge: to keep milk and beer cool, cheese and meat fresh, yoghurt and cream enticing, etc. Almost everyone has a freezer too, to keep ice-cream from becoming cream and the frozen pizza from becoming mushy flan bread.
Most of us probably learned since childhood: "If you don't put in the fridge what the supermarket keeps in the chiller then it will go bad quickly." Let's find out here how much truth is to that.
What makes my personal experience generally applicable
In my personal case things are a bit more extreme: Thanks to a personal health issue, when I eat foods that are just minimally "off" I suffer stomach cramps and indescribable pain within mere minutes! Example: When say frozen veg bags have those small ice crystals in them, that's a sign of a broken cold chain, the veggies thawed for a moment. Despite long and/or hot cooking of such veggies I always get ill eating them! No pleasure to be so sensitive, I can tell you.
So when below I say "keeps well for x hrs/days without fridge" then it really does: If I can eat it and not get the usual stomach cramps and pain, then you can eat it easily. That's all I am saying is likely. Now on to ...
The Fridge-or-No-fridge food list
Below foods need not be cooled if kept in the shade. We kept them indoors in an alu-lined shopping bag, I am sure the micro-climate of a bag helps. While outside (and from about lunch time indoors too!) the temperature in the shade hovered above 38 C / 102 F in the Algarve summer.
- Kefir: closed ones keep well for 2 days without fridge (we didn't try longer)
- Cheese (sliced and block): opened package goes slimy within 8 hrs and mouldy within 24 hrs
- Cheese: UNopened package goes slimy within 12 hrs and mouldy within 4 days
- Cottage Cheese: opened cup keeps well for 12 hrs overnight (we didn't try longer)
- Cottage Cheese: closed cup keeps well for 2 days (we didn't try longer)
- Curd: opened cup goes mouldy within 24 hrs
- Meat sausages in skin: keep well for an entire week! (we didn't try longer)
- Meat sausages in water: glas once opened keeps well for 2 days, then starts smelling "off"
- Meat like lamb slices: opened package keeps well for 24 hrs (we didn't try longer)
- Peas and Champignons: opened tins keep well overnight; after 24 hrs seem to dry out
- Fresh orange juice: bottle once opened keeps well for 2 days, then starts to taste worse
- Olives in water: opened tin keeps well for 24 hrs, but gets sort of mouldy within 3 days
- Shredded cabbage in vinegar ("Sauerkraut"): opened bag keeps well for 2 days (we didn't try longer)
- Asparagus in water: glas once opened keeps well overnight, then starts to taste worse
Why not other foods tested? - We didn't eat more variety: Other packaged foods here have too much salt or sugar or preservatives, and so I don't buy them. Miguel has had to exist on a tin of peas and a tin of champignons all this time, two meals a day. One and a half skinned sausages are the meat part, plus a banana and an apple a day. Half a cup of Kefir on top (the other half for me). That's it.
On good days half a cup of Cottage Cheese as an extra; or a slice of meat or cheese, or a few pitted and "pityless" olives, or two Asparagus stalks, or two table spoons Sauerkraut. Or a tin of Sardines or Tuna in oil.
Why not tested longer when foods kept well? - With a German Shepherd, food stocks don't last long. Some records above I only know because I forgot about an opened glas of asparagus or tin of olives or whatever. Generally though, anything that's opened the dog gets to finish with the next meal the latest, thus within 12 hrs.
Isn't the dog hungry with this meager diet? - You bet he is. I can see it: He's slim, and he scavenges everywhere for more. Without carbs like from potatoes or rice or pasta, you can't get a GSD to feel full. But for those foods you need electricity for cooking - which we don't have yet (gas or open fire we can't use the way we live).
Can a dog stay healthy on such an "incomplete diet"? - You know, many people these days seem to have been brain-washed, waxed, and meticulously polished by the pet and vet industry so convinced they are they know what foods dogs need to thrive. And then they feed their own dog "grain-free" kibble and such, truly believing that they are providing a "complete diet" because the commercial label says so. See here for details.
Conversely, we feed dogs REAL FOODS, and always have. No commercial crap from rendering plants. That currently these REAL FOODS are limited to a few tin foods and packaged foods is unfortunate, but the ramifications are more financial: It costs a LOT to feed 4 tins, 2 cups, and 1 package of something each day. A base layer of rice would be so much cheaper. The ramifications are not health though: REAL FOODS, even if this limited variety, are countless times better than any processed crap from a rendering plant labeled as "balanced and complete diet". See here for details.
Sure, peas and champignons as veg part in every meal, that's not ideal, less so if from a tin. But at least, these two types of tins here have no additives other than water (which is perfect), and they have been produced under the strict governance for people foods. Not under the anarchy that allows anyone to sell as "pet food" what isn't even FOOD.
Once you consciously look at the above diet components rather than gleaning over them with the mindset of a just viewed "pet food" advertisement, you will notice that this is just enough variety to thrive: Indeed, Miguel is very healthy, alert, and energetic still. Today we hiked 8 km, and yesterday 12 km.
And I have no worries that he will develop cancer and allergies and other immune system disorders from the toxins that make up rendering plant "dry food" bags and "wet food" tins. What bugs me is just the cost: We urgently need a generator for power to steam sth like rice as cheap base layer of every meal - as it has always been in the past.
Would this diet also be okay for a puppy? - I don't suggest so. During growth we need to provide more protein and calcium and all micro nutrients than what comes with the above "special situation diet" we are currently having.
So there you have it. Don't worry about not having a fridge or coolbox when you go on a weekend hiking trip or whatever with your dog (or without a dog). Warm beer is distasteful, yes. But if you stock up on the right foods - and every other day if with a GSD - then a fridge isn't absolutely necessary, just a nice-to-have.
What are your fridge experiences, jointly with or without your dog?