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  1. #1
    Recreation Ecologist
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    What about perishables when grocery biking?

    Not sure if this should go here or in utility biking, but my guess is here.

    Can biking to the grocery store be alright for things like chicken, ice cream, and milk? I don't have insulated panniers. Do they even make them? Sounds expensive.

    How long does the commute have to be before the raw chicken you're biking home is unsafe? I feel like this is a dumb question. o.o;

  2. #2
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    You can get freezer gel packs that stay cold for a long time, or foil insulated grocery bags, to ensure your food stays cool on the way home.
    Last edited by cooker; 04-08-08 at 12:46 PM.

  3. #3
    jim anchower jamesdenver's Avatar
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    Uhh, how exactly long is your commute? Insulated thermal whatever panniers of the future seem highly unnecessary. Just make your ice cream/frozen food stop the last stop on the way home.

    Can't get any hotter than sitting in a hot car waiting for the a/c to cool it down. I'd just bike home and not worry about it. (But I do use plastic bags for any raw chicken leakage)

  4. #4
    On-On! Dr.PooLittle's Avatar
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    If your store is far enough away that you need to worry about that, just get a new store. What're we talking about, like 20 minutes? I just pack the cold stuff together and don't worry about it. You'll know if you get sick.

  5. #5
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    Chicken isn't getting dangerous unless it sits at room temp (19-25 celsius) for a couple hours (and even then, if properly cooked it is safe to consume.) If your commute from the store is longer than 30 minutes, then you might look into an insulated mylar sack and some freezer packs for your perishables just to keep the ice-cream from melting all over the place.
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  6. #6
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    If you have a rear rack then bungee a small cooler on it to capture
    the cold to keep your goods cold enough to get home unless you
    delay along the way.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    How far are you carrying the frozen cold food? If it is going to be more than about a 30 minute roll I use the foil bags with some blue ice blocks in it. They are relatively inexpensive and do a fine job.

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  8. #8
    An Army of Fred harleyfrog's Avatar
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    A softside cooler (or two) and some frozen gel packs should do the trick. The more cold stuff you have together, the better. If you have rear rack, you might be able to put a small hardsided cooler anchored with bungee cords.

    Oh, and +1 on making the cold/frozen foods the last stop (if possible).
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  9. #9
    playin a piper tune peace_piper's Avatar
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    My strategy for keeping foods cold until I get home?

    Ride faster.

  10. #10
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HopliteGrad View Post
    I feel like this is a dumb question. o.o;
    I think it's a good question.

    Backpacks seem to insulate things pretty good, but I worry if I'm making a lot of stops on the way home from the supermarket. I just stopped at the farmer's market and bought some frozen chicken sausage and greens. Now I'm making several stops on the way home. I'm hoping the sausage will be thawed and the greens still cold when I get home in a couple more hours. I know I'm going to be hungry after all this riding!


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  11. #11
    Senior Member charly17201's Avatar
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    Definitely not a dumb question.

    Put your time in relation to what people do in their cars..... I know it is nothing for some to drive 30-60 minutes, making a pit stop or two or three before getting home.
    Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm.

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  12. #12
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    I buy frozen veggies to pack around my beer. The veggies are like a sacrificial layer; it works and is cost effective because I know that even should the veggies thaw completely (never happened) they will still be edible, and I can probably even refreeze them with nothing worse than some extra water in them when i cook them again.

    The same principle should work with Ice Cream and Meats.

    Also with Ice Cream I've found that Ben and Jerry's takes much longer to get soft than cheaper ice creams. I hate soft ice cream, and I really hate refrozen ice cream, so I understand your pain if you are having this problem.

    Edit: It's not that I fear my beer going bad, it is that I want it drinkable at home ASAP.

  13. #13
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    I don't know what it's called, but I found it at the grocery store. It's a 2-ply bag (very thin) that is essentially foil. It's designed to be compact insulation. I'm not sure how well it really works, but it does offer some peace of mind I guess. You could stuff a soft-sided cooler down into your pannier, but it would be bulky. I like the frozen gel-pack idea. If you have some of those to throw into your pannier just before you leave, they should do the job for awhile even if you don't have an insulated bag.

    I don't really have to worry about most groceries since I can pedal home from the store in about eight minutes, but I do sometimes stop by a local seafood shop that is more like a 25 or 30 minute ride from home. My strategy there is to buy some frozen filet's for stocking the freezer, along with whatever fresh seafood I buy. If I don't have the insulated bag with me, I just wrap them in a plastic grocery bag together. Even after the 30 minute ride home the frozen fish is still frozen, and it keeps the fresh stuff nice and cold. It helps that the temperature rarely gets above 80 degrees in the Summer, and is more like 45-65 degrees most of the year. I don't know if I'd try it in 95 degree weather.

    Sean

  14. #14
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    If your grocery store is 25 minutes' riding time from home (like one of my favored stores is) then you should be fine, even in 90 degree heat.

    In my experience, anyway.
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    I figure that 30 minutes or so is not going to hurt my food, even in the hottest weather. If I have a long route planned, I just make sure that fragile stuff (like milk) gets picked up last. Frozen food gets packed in "clumps" so that the ice cream is with the peas and the frozen chicken and the broccoli. This gives me a lot of thermal mass, so it's hard for anything to overheat quickly. Anything truly perishable (like milk!), goes in the pannier with frozen things.

    Most foods we think of as perishable *really* don't have anything bad happen to them easily.

    That said, I do make a point of getting milk at the grocery store closest to me. I'm a bit overfussy about the taste of milk that's been out in heat or light.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    1. Get a deep freeze.

    2. Buy anything that needs to remain frozen, or which you can freeze, during the late fall, winter, and early spring. Keep extras in your deep freeze for the summer months.

    3. If you really want to buy frozen products in the summer (or fresh products that will go bad quickly), pick a cool day to go shopping, and buy several frozen items. Place all the frozen items (and anything else that has to be kept cool in the bag together. The frozen stuff will help keep the other frozen stuff frozen, and the cool stuff cool for the duration of the trip.

    4. Plan to eat a lot of non-perishable products in the summer, save the perishable products for the winter.

    5. Get one of those little ice packs that go in lunch boxes (about $1) and take it with you to keep milk etc. cool.

  17. #17
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HopliteGrad View Post
    Not sure if this should go here or in utility biking, but my guess is here.

    Can biking to the grocery store be alright for things like chicken, ice cream, and milk? I don't have insulated panniers. Do they even make them? Sounds expensive.

    How long does the commute have to be before the raw chicken you're biking home is unsafe? I feel like this is a dumb question. o.o;
    We tend to be too anal about keeping food cold. Besides things that melt like ice cream and frozen foods, you can let food be exposed to warm air. The only thing to worry about is providing an environment where pathogens would grow. First of all, you have to have a pathogen contamination to worry about in the first place which, for the most part, is not likely.

    Finally, as long as you are cooking your food, you don't really have to worry about pathogens anyway. Treat all your food as if it were contaminated with pathogens whether it was allowed to get warm or not and you will be better off.

    Ride on. Worry not.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Lamplight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    3. If you really want to buy frozen products in the summer (or fresh products that will go bad quickly), pick a cool day to go shopping
    There are no cool days here until the end of October. That being said, I've never had anything go bad on the ride home even when it was over 100 F. I imagine a car's trunk is hotter than one of my panniers. But I also don't live too far from the store and I never buy ice cream, so no worries there.

  19. #19
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    I used to buy some frozen meats in a store that was an hours' ride away from home. It kept fine as long as I put it in panniers and not in the backpack, next to all that body heat.
    Stomping as lightly as I can...

  20. #20
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike View Post
    We tend to be too anal about keeping food cold. Besides things that melt like ice cream and frozen foods, you can let food be exposed to warm air.
    +1. If it doesn't have a revolting stink, it should be fine so long as you cook it.
    Stomping as lightly as I can...

  21. #21
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    Chrome manufactured a limited number of "kozmo" bags. These are insulated full size bike messenger bags. They go on ebay for 80-120 dollars a piece and are worth it.

    I pick up hot take out food in ours and then bike home twenty minutes and its still hot when I get home. I've thrown in a pile of cold veggies, milk etc into it without a problem.

    This bag can hold more than you can carry.

    http://search.ebay.com/search/search...zmo&category0=
    Last edited by elfich; 04-08-08 at 09:23 PM. Reason: typo

  22. #22
    ex-everything. soze's Avatar
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    Your meat, eggs, or milk is not going to kill you if the sun winks at it. Suck it up, buy a little freezy pack, and ride faster.

  23. #23
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    Good suggestions above.

    Another: buy ice at the supermarket. Crushed ice is no more than $1 for seven pounds around here.

    Seven pounds of ice is not trivial to add to your load. But if you don't mind the extra work, or you need a big block of ice, just throw the ice in your bike bag on top of whatever you want to keep cold.

    Or, you can bring some ziploc bags from home with you (the larger, gallon size is the best), or just use several plastic grocery bags. Smash up the ice, and distribute a few pounds among several ziploc or grocery bags. (Tie off the grocery bags, if you use that option.) Then pack the bags around whatever it is you want to keep cold.

    A tip: get the crushed ice first, on your way in the store. Leave it in your cart while you shop. The ice will start to melt and be slightly easier to crush up when you're ready to go. Or, if the ice consists of a very hard chunk of cubes, buy the ice in the express lane before you do anything else. Leave the ice outside on the ground, by your bike. Then do the rest of your shopping. The ice will be much easier to break up when you're done.

    I've used ice this way to transport popsicles, ice cream, or other frozen items. Even after more than an hour's ride home in 90+ F temperatures, frozen things stayed frozen.

    Let me second Bike2Math's very good idea of using frozen vegetables, too.

  24. #24
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Cooker's plan to take along gel packs is a good one. I'll remember that. One hassle I have often I buy stuff at the grocer on the way back from a long, long ride. / I usually buy lighter items at a shopping center two miles away and pick up heavier stuff like milk at the local grocer a couple blocks away. / I have two panniers and sometimes the weight of grocery items, I fear in enough to squish my tires. Yesterday was my wife's birthday. No bulky cakes. I bought a ice cream cake four blocks from home./ Also, I very much fear a flat on the way home, when carrying perishables.
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  25. #25
    Cheese toThinkistoBe's Avatar
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    If you're really worried about it, get a SensorfreshQ.

    Google tells me that chicken will be ok for 1-2 hours at room temperature.

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