Rusty Dennen covers military affairs and the environment for The Free Lance-Star. .
Some new menu choices for troops in the field
Meals, Ready to Eat, or MREs have been feeding the nation’s troops since the 1980s, with updates to the menu reflecting changing American tastes. The Department of Defense recently unveiled some of the new offerings for 2012 for the practically indestructible meals encased in heavy brown plastic wrappers, and developed by the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts.
The meals have a main course, sides, dessert, and a chemical heating source, all in one package. Beef, and chicken, with all kinds of ethnic variations have been standard fare over the years. Asian pepper steak and Mexican chicken stew, along with au gratin potatoes are new this year, along with multigrain snack bread, jalapeno-cheese-filled crackers, a fiber-fortified banana nut Ranger bar and sour fruit candy discs. According to a story today by the American Forces Press Service, food scientists at the Natick center looked to Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s and other popular chain eateries for inspiration for the new offerings. MREs are required to last for three years when stored at 80 degrees, and six months at higher temperatures.
I ate some of these while working on a story about pre-deployment training with an Army National Guard unit. The pound cake is killer.