I’ve always had a strong admiration for our men and women serving in the military. It takes a special kind of person to put their lives on the line for people they will likely never meet.
I just didn’t know how brave they were until recently. I was somehow convinced by our executive editor Hatcher Hurd to try a sampling of a military ration.
A local man who sends care packages to troops gave Hatcher an MRE – meal ready to eat – kit, complete with a veggie burger and barbeque sauce. As the “office vegetarian,” I was summoned to take one for the team.
I have a vague memory of trying something similar in college after visiting an Army supply store and being impressed and somewhat amused that a vegetarian ration was offered. I don’t think that went over too well, or if I even ended up trying the powdery food.
So when Hatcher asked if I was interested in sampling, I roped my fellow newsroom staff into joining me on the taste test journey.
Around lunchtime we ripped open the package. Let me just start by saying, our ignorance was showing, or as Hatcher put it, was flashing in neon.
We inspected each individual package and were thoroughly amused by the teeny, tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce.
First, we sampled the various premade food, beginning with the bread which tasted like a stale piece of pita bread. The chocolate banana nut muffin top left a lot to be desired; in fact we never noticed it was supposed to be banana flavored until we read the package.
But what really stuck out to us were the raisins. My coworkers put it eloquently when they said they’d remember trying those forever, and that the raisins, “rotted immediately upon contact with saliva.”
After we experimented with the side dishes, it was time to make our veggie burger.
Let me just say, this food gives a whole new meaning to “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Trying to figure out how to make the burger was like an intelligence test.
We had to set up the provided heater, which took pretty much all the brain power we could muster. I can’t even imagine being out in the field having to figure out how to work the cooker. I hope they are taught how to set up their food prior to shipping out.
Once we waited the allotted 10-15 minutes, we tried the burger. As someone who eats veggie burgers regularly, I have to admit it wasn’t too shabby. Granted, I wouldn’t buy it in the store or order it at a restaurant. But if I was out serving our country and really hungry, I would be happy to have that.
It’s also incredible that a vegetarian dish is obtainable at all. In my everyday life, I am often told to “eat around the meat” or “pick it out.” My choices are sometimes limited to macaroni and cheese or rolls.
So the fact our military thinks about offering this as an option, if for religious or personal reasons, is excellent.
All in all, we, of course, tasted the food through our mindset of not actually being in the military and having the option to eat other food if we didn’t like what was presented.
Eating rations is just one small part of being in the military, but as was once said, “an army marches on its stomach.”
As for our newsroom, I’m not too sure we could suck it up and eat the provisions, then go out and interview and write, let alone go into battle.
So I commend the army for not only eating their MREs, but for doing so and then going on to serve our country and putting their lives at risk. We thank you for all that you do.