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Smarter Than the Average Bear

by Micah Cheek

While most of us in the suburbs think about food storage in terms of handling leftovers, spillproofing and looking nice on the countertop, camping enthusiasts and folks living in wooded areas in the North have a different set of priorities; namely, keeping all those giant, vicious bears away.

Unlike trying to find a container tall enough to hold the spaghetti, the stakes get higher in bear country. It can be tough to find a container that is both airtight and looks decent, so how in the world do companies manage to design coolers that can hold off a hungry grizzly?

It turns out that this is a question that can be answered, which is why I found myself talking to Randy Gravatt, Container Testing Coordinator at The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana. Gravatt has what might be coolest job ever. He takes coolers and trash cans, fills them with peanut butter and dog food, and hides the containers for rescued bears to find and try to pry open. The end goal is to certify the products bear-safe, ensuring that no wandering grizzly in the wild could get ahold of the food inside. “The visitors love this testing, and they love it because they underestimate the power and strength of a bear. So they’re out there watching for perhaps over an hour, a 400-pound grizzly bear trying to get in,” says Gravatt. “They’re just relentless. Where the public perhaps could have thought, ‘I thought that bungee cords would keep them out.’ It has the padlocks, but they’re chewing a hole through the product, and it’s just blowing people away.” The bears have even worked around latches set deeply in holes that only thinner human fingers can get into. These carefully designed mechanisms sometimes can’t stand up to brute strength. “So the bear did not chew a hole in it, but he crushed it like an accordion and the latch no longer works,” adds Gravatt.

The Grizzly Discovery Center takes in bears that are caught after getting used to acquiring food in human environments, raiding everything from trash cans to chicken coops. “They can no longer live in the wild because they’ve learned the wrong way how to acquire food,” says Gravatt. “So the idea of the Grizzly Center is that no other bears [should] have to come here, and they can remain out in the wild where they belong. We want to educate the visitors here who live or recreate in bear country to not make the same mistake.” Interactions between bears and humans are on the rise, and that’s bad news for both groups. Humans have unintentionally provided bears with food sources that are much easier than their usual hunting and foraging.

“When bears become comfortable around humans, it’s a bad thing. You forgot something in your car. All of a sudden, you surprise mom and the cubs and you get mauled,” says Gravatt. “It’s the number one cause of bears having to be euthanized, because of getting into the unnatural food source. As we move into their habitat there tends to be more problems.”

On a smaller scale, rough and tumble options in containers are great for customers who are dealing with kids instead of cubs. The Aladdin Six-Piece Nesting Bowl Set features three bowls with matching lids, in 56-ounce, 93-ounce and 114-ounce capacities. Perfect for entertaining or everyday serving and storage, they are durable and lightweight for indoor or outdoor use. An airtight seal makes the bowls worry-free and spill-free for on-the-go use. The set nests together to store, saving precious cupboard space. Microwave and dishwasher safe, they are hassle free and BPA-free.

If you’ve made a cake, the idea of smeared icing can be unbearable. Amici Home’s Pastry Shoppe Servers combine fashion and function in a truly unique vessel for cakes, pies, and other pastries. Standing 7.5 inches tall, each piece includes three latches to secure the plate to the dome. Great for storage and serving, these servers come packed in assorted case packs of four with customers receiving two of both the Pastry Shoppe and Premium Bakery style. The Amici Pastry Shoppe style includes an elegant design on a bright white cover that sits on top of a mint green platter. The Premium Bakery style showcases a bakery-inspired artwork on a mint green cover, which sits on top of a bright white platter. The server is great for easy and secure transportation to indoor, outdoor parties or even on the go.

A vacuum sealer can be an important tool for long term freezer storage. The Nesco VS-02 Food Vacuum Sealer features integrated roll storage with bag cutter, an override seal for delicate foods and two bag rolls and 10 pre-made bags. Priced competitively at $89.99, the VS-02 is an outstanding value. The Nesco units can use competitor bags and rolls, and the competitor units can use the Nesco ones. These full-size vacuum sealers are commercial quality and can stand up to long sealing sessions without overheating and turning off. Made 100 percent in the USA, recap Mason jar lids can be used with Mason jars for pantry storage, bathroom organization, kitchen creations and more.

While the reCAP POUR provides an ideal solution for pouring smoothies and salad dressings, the reCAP FLIP’ s large, 2-inch opening is perfect for on-the-go or in-home use. Both versatile, BPA-free caps fit several Mason jar brands. Since its launch in 2012, reCAP’s popularity continues to surge amongst foodies, busy mothers and crafters. Recently a new customer base has emerged: fermentation enthusiasts.

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