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 To MRE or not to MRE...that is the question...

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PostSubject: To MRE or not to MRE...that is the question...   Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:43 am

The it your friend or not? In our opinion, NO, it's NOT. In the following post I will be outlining the pro's and con's on what some revere to be the ultimate survival food. We have found this to be flat out wrong. If you are a soldier serving a taxpayer driven and funded army, then sure. They'd be great. But even the military knows that you cannot sustain on them for any length of time. In fact, there's regulations about how long troops can stay on MREs.

In light of SO many people's having invested in MREs for "times of crisis" as they did for Y2K and so on, I thought I'd offer up my crew's perspective on MREs, and why we don't buy them...ever.


1.) Water weight. The sheer volume of water contained in these meals is counterproductive. It is nowhere near enough to counter dehydration. It makes the meals heavy, cumbersome, subject to extremes in temperature and so on. The fact that you immediately start using your body's moisture the moment you place a bite of food in your mouth means that you are combatting dehydration. Upon close examination, you see that these meals are LOADED with things that mandate you increase your water intake. As a soldier in a war zone, your water is provided for you. As an operator who may well be on your own until linkup with your'd better be thinking outside the box. And considering where your pounds are being used in carry of your kit. Personally, my crew and I have come to the decision that having additional resources is vastly more important than a few more heavy, empty calories. Calories we can find almost anywhere...just have to know where and what to look for.

2.) They are LOADED with salt and preservatives. This is not condusive to maintaining a healthy body. Many of us aren't young bucks anymore, and that salt content may well exacerbate health issues like high blood pressure.

3.) Each MRE (if COMPLETELY CONSUMED, snacks and all) provides an average of 1,250 calories (13% protein, 36% fat, and 51% carbohydrates) and 1/3 of the Military Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals. A full day's worth of meals would consist of three MREs. Not exactly economic considering that a average case is $100, and it contains only 12 meals. That means that you effectively are consuming at LEAST $100 every 4 days. This cost would go up dramatically under periods of heavy activity or in inclement weather like WINTER...when calorie need rises drastically.

4.) If you are at "operational pace", you will need to maintain around 3500 calories in order to remain effective. That means 3-4 MREs per day, at minimum. Up here, MREs average $8-$10 each. That's $40 per day. Even in a simple reactionary capacity, who can afford this? Especially when you have a spouse and kids? Teammates? People you may encounter along the way?

5.) Overall volume. The only way I've ever made MREs useful is to "field strip" them. The contents of an average MRE are basically useless in the long run. The food is one thing, but the "accessory packages" accomplish little else for the troop on the move. If you are in a squad sized element or bigger, what you have generated by a chow stop is a LOT of TRASH. In a serious SHTF scenario, you cannot afford to leave any more trace on your trail than is absolutely necessary. The usage of tracking dogs, trained scouts and trackers and so on will make the MRE your downfall tactically. In the modern military where the troops are all in a vehicle of some sort, it's easy to have trash bags around and so on. But honestly, they are not fighting for their lives when we are the army of occupation. And they hardly have to be concerned with stealth or anti-tracking techniques...

6.) As mentioned in post #3: Each MRE provides an average of 1,250 calories (13% protein, 36% fat, and 51% carbohydrates) and 1/3 of the Military Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals. A full day's worth of meals would consist of three MREs. This is pretty piss poor nutrition. What they don't tell you is the content of sodium and preservatives. These things are HORRIBLE for you. In the short term, they would suffice...but not for very long. Your body starts a countdown timer the moment you start relying on these as any form of primary food source. Ask your medics about the "benefits" of sustained high sodium diets...

7.) Lack of diversity. An average case of MREs will contain 3-5 different meals, dependant upon how they were packed and what "menu plan" they were built in accordance with. Trust me...after a get SICK of the same old crap. Maintaining morale and a healthy mind/spirit will be complicated by eating the same meals day after day. While they have improved, they still don't taste very good...and the first thing to go in high stress environments is morale. Don't make your food the spark that lights the fuse...


1.) It's food. Something is better than nothing.

2.) They have a long shelf life IF stored and handled properly. There is proper training required for sustained storage of MREs.

3.) They are ready to go right out of their pouch, fully cooked and ready to go.

4.) The plastic bag can be used in a pinch as an expedient seal for sucking chest wounds.


Create your own IMPROVISED MREs!

Using a 1 gallon ziploc bag, you can drop in all kinds of healthier options that hold quite a while, taste better, and will be VASTLY less expensive. Dried foods, dehydrated fruits and veggies, spices, teas and coffees, pouched tuna fish, powdered vitamin packs, hard candies, boullion cubes, powdered drink powders both energy and electrolyte and so on are but a few options. You can also place things like beans, rice, premixed bannock bread, jerky or other dried meat and so on provide superior nutrition options, and can be used creatively to make infinite combinations to please the mind as well as the stomach.

Look into specialty places like Asian food markets. They sell very well dried and preserved seafood fare that adds yet another nutritious and tasty option to your improvised food stores. The Asian culture has endured some of the hardest times this planet has ever seen, and their methods of food storage and preservation are inarguably beyond compare.

Remember also that there IS wildlife out there, and that even in a SHTF scenario, we are NOT going to be plunged into the Dark Ages. Life will go on, and if you play your cards right, resupplying wouldn't be imposible.

These are as I've said, simply our thoughts after years of research as a crew. You must do what works for you...

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