Food Discovery from War
Food is great. Food is important. Getting food to everyone is also a challenge, from the farm to the store is a lengthy, expensive and tedious process, although modern technology has made it slightly easier. But never is it harder to transport food then in a war. It has to be kept fresh over long distances, has to be nutritious, has to be light and simple enough for a soldier to carry around, to a lesser extent it has to be tasty, and even the sheer quantity of food that has to be transported is a logistical nightmare. A soldier without food can’t really do a good job of being a soldier. It keeps the soldier fit and healthy, boosts morale and keeps the war machine running.
However, we as humans are very good at waging war, so naturally we’ve found ways to overcome this challenge. Over the years there have been numerous inventions and innovations to ensure the frontline soldier has a full stomach. Unsurprisingly, some of these innovations are so amazing that they’ve been adopted by supermarkets and civilians even in times of peace. Research labs and universities who discovered such technologies for the military also shared their secrets with the food industry, who, eager for the next big marketing scheme and novelty, begun selling these new products on the open market. Of course some of these food items have been altered to suit a less battle-hardened taste, but they’ve been so popular that nowadays most people forget that these things once aided in war, and see them as everyday items, some of these you might have just eaten recently.
Sounds like something from a science friction show? Restructured meat is in fact used in many restaurants or diners as a cheaper alternative to expensive cuts of meat. A famous example is the McRib. Yes that amazing blend of barbeque sauce and rib meat is in fact just cheaper miscellaneous chunks of meat glued together to resemble more expensive ones. Some shady diners may serve you steak or patties using this same method. This bright idea grew from a Natick Center program in an effort to lower the costs of meat. The US army’s new beefy MREs made their debut in 1976, much to the ignorant delight of troops in the field.
Energy Bars/ Meal Replacements
Meal in a bar; It’s small, light, nutritious, somewhat tasty and cheap. No wonder it’s a product of the military. The general idea was that the less water in something, the longer it’ll take to spoil, and the more nutrients and stuff can be jammed inside. So scientist begun to find ways to lower the water level and reformulate foods, the result? Intermediate-moisture foods. That means it stays soft and edible for months, and taste bland and horrible (although some people love it for some reason). Soon dieters and health fanatics begun adopting this new food as a meal replacements, more nutrients less calories, perfect. And when there’s demand good ol capitalism would ensure supply. Hence different companies popped up trying all sorts of new flavours and recipes to make it slightly less horrible, and people loved it. Nowadays there are entire shelves dedicated to this product, showing just how an army ration can transform into one of the most popular snacks today.
Technically the US army did not invent bread, but they did come up with a way of adding anti-staling additives and Starch-snacking bacterial enzymes to make bread last much much longer. This allowed them to be transported all over the world and distributed to hungry soldiers all while still soft and fresh. That’s why somehow supermarket bread never goes stale.
After the success of freeze drying chemicals (see post about war and medicine), the US army decided why not freeze dry food as well, and hence a wide range of products were born; such instant coffee, vegetable/meat pieces in instant noodles, dried fruit bits in cereal, pastry mix, and powdered milk.
So i guess we have the army to thank for some of our everyday snacks and food. Funny how all this was from finding a way to have our guys kill other guys more effectively.