I was sifting through the news and I came across this item. It seems that the U.S. military has developed a sandwich that has a very long shelf life. This got me to thinking about the history of food preservation.
*WARNING! WARNING! LONG BORING POST DEAD AHEAD!*
Since the dawn of civilization there's only been four ways to preserve food: drying, salting, pickling, and spicing it up so's you don't mind eating it when it turns.
Salting preserves food by drying it out, or at least drying out the bacteria and inhibiting their growth. Pickling will inhibit bacterial growth through increasing the acidity of the food. Drying or dehydrating food will preserve it by denying bacteria one of the three things that all bacteria needs to grow (food, water and warmth). That just leaves the last method.
Sausage is a wholesome food that, with today's modern food preservation tech, is perfectly safe. But it originally was a bunch of heavily spiced, chopped up meat that was stuffed in a section of intestine (come to think of it, sausage hasn't changed any over the centuries). The extra spices were there to cover up the taste of ripening meat. Along with flour (ground up and dried out cereal grains), it was considered the perfect military ration. In fact, people would realize that a war was about to start if the local king would start buying up all of the sausage and flour. No tube steak or fresh bread and it was time to bury your valuables and think of where you were going to run when the armies started to march.
What we would call "modern" methods of food preservation didn't get started until the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, it was Napoleon himself that is the one person most responsible for modern food. I'd discuss it right now but I'm really tired, this post is long enough as it is, and I want to prolong your agony. So I'll post the rest when I wake up.