An Interview with Mountain House Foods

Here is another interview with a Mountain House Foods.  This is a very informative one and gives some good information that will help you determine which foods to purchase.

Howard

Our History

Questions:

  • Mountain House Food

    Here is an example of one of the freeze dried foods that Mountain House makes for the U.S. Military

    How long have you been in the food business?

  • What is your main motivation for staying in business?
  • Do you have a military background?

OFD (Oregon Freeze Dry)was started more than 50 years ago when two entrepreneurial businessmen came together and, with a grant from the Governor of Oregon, built our first production facility in Albany, Oregon. Our primary business at first was freeze drying strawberries for General Food cereals. Then the Vietnam Conflict happened.

The Department of Defense put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) for food that would taste better, last longer, and weigh less than K and C rations. We answered the call and won the contract to make freeze dried meals for the United States Special Forces.  For those of you familiar with those kinds of rations, back then it was called the Long Range Patrol Ration or “Lurp.” Nowadays it’s called the MCW/LRP and we have continued to make them for our Special Forces soldiers ever since. We also make other food for the other branches of the military.

It’s out of these rations for Special Forces that Mountain House was born. As the war began to wind down, we had a warehouse full of these Special Forces food rations. We took them to local and regional army surplus retailers, where the meals sold like hotcakes. That’s when we realized we had a consumer-demanded product and Mountain House was born.

We’ve been in this industry longer than just about everyone else and are recognized worldwide as the trusted experts in freeze drying. Our production facilities and headquarters are still in Albany, Oregon where we continue to provide good paying jobs and support the local economy.

What’s even more interesting is that up until 2012, we didn’t have a marketing department! We grew to be the industry leader in the freeze-dried food segment based purely on word of mouth and the support of the customers who believe in our food. The food sells itself. There are a lot of imitators in the market, so please test them side by side with Mountain House and buy what suits your family’s taste best.

Our Mission

We have a mission that you won’t explicitly see in any of the marketing or materials but it permeates our whole philosophy and culture: To Feed and Comfort in Time of Need. Whether that is on the top of the tallest mountains in the world, on a polar expedition, on the battlefield or hunkered down at home with the power out, we make food people trust. We don’t have any other option, really. If you can’t rely on the food we make, then why  make it at all?

Our Brands

Questions:

  • What Brands of Food do you sell?
  • What is your favorite brand?

OFD has had several brands over the years, but Mountain House is the longest lasting. Long before I started work for OFD and Mountain House, I was a Mountain House consumer and fan. I grew up eating Mountain House when I was on camping trips with my family and Boy Scouts, as well as on hunting and fishing trips with my dad. Now that I have a family of my own, I store Mountain House in my pantry at home just in case we need it.

Our Technology

Questions:

  • What is the oxygen level in the brands of foods that you carry?
  • Has your food been independently tested?
  • Why doesn’t nitrogen flush work?
  • What method do the brands that you carry use to control the oxygen levels? 

Our food is always manufactured to the strictest quality standards. Not only do we maintain SQF II certification, we are also routinely inspected by the USDA (we use real meat in our meals) and cooperate with rigorous independent third party audits.

We maintain the strictest standards for oxygen and consistently average under 2%. Feel free to check out an oxygen study Columbia Food Laboratories did, showing average O2 to be .16%!

When it comes to nitrogen flushing, we’ve used it in the past. However we now use oxygen absorbers which works better. We also have a proprietary packaging structure and other technologies that help us maintain the longest proven shelf life in the industry.

Just as an FYI, our oxygen absorbers are filled with iron powder. If you ever accidently forget to remove it from your food before rehydrating, no worries. The food is still perfectly safe to eat.

Our Sourcing

Questions:

  • Are there Chinese foods in the products you sell?
  • What about foods from Mexico or other countries?

We make every effort to source our ingredients here in the United States. Sometimes, due to seasonality (i.e. it is not the growing season in the US) we will source from other places. Regardless of where the ingredients come from, all ingredients must pass very vigorous inspections and standards.

Specifically about China… we found that the best bamboo shoots for our Chicken Teriyaki come from there. Same with the water chestnut in our Oriental Style Rice & Chicken. They are the only ingredients that comes from China.

We also source real tomatillos from Mexico for our White Bean Chicken Chili. Once again, we sought out the best ingredient for our needs and it turns out that it comes from Mexico. 

Consumer Education 

Question:

  • What would you warn consumers to look for in purchasing foods?

There are several things that consumers may not know but really should. Here is a list:

Shelf Life Claims

Mountain House has the longest, real-world proven shelf life in the industry. There is a world of difference between a claim of “up-to” a certain shelf life and a guaranteed shelf life. Technically, a food company claiming a shelf life of “up to” 25 years would not be lying if the food went rancid 2 months after it was made. There are companies out there that do this because they count on you never actually tasting the food. Watch out!

We guarantee our food will be good for 10+ years in pouches or 25+ years in cans. We add the “+” because we know that the food will likely be good for much longer than that. We’ve eaten the food and sent it out for independent testing. We know for a fact our claims are true.

“Will Sustain Life” vs Virtually Indistinguishable from New

Also be aware of companies that use the absurdly low standard of “Will Sustain Life” rather than the consumer expectation of “Virtually Indistinguishable from New.”

For instance, a 25-year old bag of potato chips will probably “sustain life”, but that doesn’t mean you’d want to, much less enjoy, eating it.

Servings vs Calories

Watch out for the very common “servings vs calories” trick. There are some multi-month kits out there that would literally starve your family to death if you’d use them as your sole source of nourishment. The average adult needs between 1600-2200 calories depending on activity level, size, gender and age. Ignore servings and focus on the number of calories you need to thrive in an emergency situation. And make sure the calories are high quality and aren’t empty calories, like those from drink mixes and the like. Some kits have a significant portion of their calories in drink mixes.

GMO-Free (Genetically Modified Organisms) Claims

Another thing to watch out for are “GMO-Free” claims. The biggest warning sign is when a brand pastes the words “GMO-Free” or “Certified GMO Free” on its label, usually accompanied by a fancy seal. Unfortunately, “GMO-Free” is not a legally or scientifically defensible term. The proper labeling actually comes from the Non GMO Project, and to my knowledge there are no Non-GMO Project Verified makers in the freeze-dried food space.

The Non GMO Project is the only independent verification for GMO free products in North America. It is a very rigorous and very expensive process to obtain and maintain a Non GMO Project Verified Seal. We strongly encourage everyone with concerns about GMOs to visit the Non GMO Project website and educate themselves.

Peace of Mind

Question:

  • Why do you think people should buy long-term storage foods?

Everyone has (or should) have a savings account large enough to pay the mortgage and all your expenses for 3 to 6 months if you should become unemployed or have a medical emergency. The same thing applies to food. The peace of mind it brings knowing your family will be fed in critical times is priceless. With her permission, I’d like to share something one of our Facebook fans shared with us during the chemical spill in West Virginia last January:

“I’ve always been a big fan of Mountain House food but even more so now. For the past week my family has been one of those effected by the chemical spill in WV and has been living with contaminated water. What a relief it’s been to open up a couple of bags of our favorite mountain house food, using very little water, and have delicious meals from bottled water that I know is safe. No worries about doing dishes afterwards or having to bring in fresh water just for that reason. Mountain House…you have a loyal customer for life! Thank you!” –Shelly B.

It is situations like these that embody why people should consider buying food for long term emergencies.

Serving Sizes

Question:

  • What size serving do the foods you carry have? 

We use USDA “Reference Amount Customarily Consumed” to determine our “serving size”, although as noted above, you should focus on calories rather than “servings” when making your purchasing decisions. We have a variety of different serving size option to choose from. You’ll have to check out the back of the package or www.mountainhouse.com to find the specific information on the meal you are looking for.

Why Mountain House?

Question:

  • Why should people buy from you? 

Mountain House is the industry leader for a reason. It basically boils down to a few things:

  • We make the best tasting freeze dried meals you can buy. But don’t take our word for it. Please, compare us to other brands and buy what is best for you and your family. We wouldn’t want it any other way.
  • We are easy to find. We are available in the camping section of most stores as well as and several other places like Freeze Dry Guy and The Ready Store. If your favorite retailer doesn’t carry the item you’re looking for, you can order from www.mountainhouse.com.
  • We have fed people in their time of need in every climate and condition on earth. Literally. From the bottom of the deepest oceans, to the battlefield, to the tops of the mountains, and all the way to the Moon and back. Mountain House is the food people trust when they can’t afford failure. That’s an endorsement money simply cannot buy.
  • We have the longest proven shelf life in the industry.
  • When extreme explorers and expeditions need food, they call us.
  • We actively listen to our consumers and take their suggestions into consideration. Our most recent items Apple Crisp, Biscuits and Gravy and Fire Roasted Vegetables were developed directly from consumer feedback.
  • Finally, did you know Mountain House makes an easy meal when you’re just too tired to cook —and clean up — after a hard day at work? I’ve done it many-a-time, and our research shows I’m not alone.

Conclusion

Thank you for the opportunity to share our story! If you’d like to request a free sample, please email Mountain House customer service at MH-Info@ofd.com with your name and physical shipping address and we’ll gladly get you set up.

 

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