What do soldiers around the world eat? A pile of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) lies on the floor at a compound. (Thinkstock)
What do soldiers around the world eat?
Lexile

No matter who they're fighting for, soldiers around the world have something very basic in common. They need to eat.
 
Perhaps unsurprisingly, field rations, known among U.S. soldiers as "Meals, Ready to Eat," or "MREs," have a pretty bad reputation among the troops. They have to rely on the freeze-dried, vacuum-sealed meals while out on patrol or on the battlefield. While no one expects field rations to provide a five-star dining experience, many militaries do what they can to give their soldiers a decent meal. And that is whether it's serving traditional fare or measuring how eating MREs can affect their troops' health.

For American soldiers, Army-issued MREs come packed with everything soldiers need for a solid 1,200-calorie meal. They include several courses, beverages, flameless heating elements and utensils. But the Army isn't only concerned about fueling its soldiers. It wants them to enjoy their meal, as well.
 
"What is nutrition if you don't consume the food?" Army research dietitian Holly McClung says in a statement. "We need ways to keep warfighters interested in and excited about eating in the field after they have been training and eating MREs for several days."
 
The U.S. Army put out a call for volunteers. The Army wanted to find out who was willing to survive solely off of MREs for almost a month. It is an attempt to see how the field rations might affect the delicate ecosystem of gut bacteria in the digestive system. After all, considering that MREs have to meet a laundry list of requirements, such as being able to survive a 1,250-foot parachute drop and stay edible for up to 3 1/2 years in temperatures of up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it stands to reason that officers would want to know how these specific modifications might affect their troops health. This is according to reporter Emanuella Grinberg for CNN.
 
"Interactions between the millions of bacteria living in our gut and what we eat is a very important factor in gut health. But we don't know how MRE foods interact with those bacteria to impact gut health," McClung says in a statement. "Ultimately, discovering how eating MREs influences gut bacteria and gut health will help our efforts to continually improve the MRE."

Studying how eating MREs affect soldiers' microbiomes is one way that U.S. Army officials are trying to keep their troops healthy. The Army also does what it can to make sure that soldiers aren't eating the same meals over and over again. MREs cover a wide range of food, from spaghetti Bolognese to caffeine-infused beef jerky, David Whelan reports for Munchies. Army researchers even unveiled what some call the "holy grail of MRE’s."  It is pizza.
 
While the U.S. Army might offer one of the largest varieties of menu choices for its MREs, most countries try to offer their soldiers something that resembles their homeland's cuisine. South Korean soldiers get treated to bibimbap and kimchi. French fighters are offered deer pâté and duck confit. The range of food varies greatly. Colombian soldiers mostly live off of rice and beans, while the Italian Army issues its fighters a 40-percent alcohol "breakfast shot," Whelan writes.
 
"When you're in the deployed environment, it tends to be fear and the monotonous. So the only thing you have to look forward to is the chow," Army Materiel Command director Bill Bigelow tells C.J. Lin for Stars and Stripes. "And if it's monotonous chow, that just adds to your misery."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why don't soldiers everywhere eat the same thing?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (64)
  • williamb-4-bar
    5/11/2016 - 07:16 p.m.

    Soldier's everywhere don't eat the same thing because of many reasons like religon or allergies. some people in different reiligons eat different food like maybe they're vegitarian or they dont eat plants.

  • tylerl-ver
    5/11/2016 - 07:38 p.m.

    The countries try to give their soldiers food that they are used to eating from their homeland.

  • theaw-4-bar
    5/11/2016 - 07:56 p.m.

    Soldiers everywhere don't eat the same thing because different places have different cultures. For example, " South Korean soldiers get treated to bibimbap and kimchi. French fighters are offered deer pâté and duck confit. (...) Colombian soldiers mostly live off of rice and beans, while the Italian Army issues its fighters a 40-percent alcohol "breakfast shot." To conclude soldiers everywhere don't eat the same thing because their home countries have different cuisines. I found this article interesting, because I have heard of an army diet, however now I actually know what it is.

  • brycec-ver
    5/11/2016 - 09:48 p.m.

    I thought that this article was very interesting. I had absolutely no idea how specific the food soldiers ate had to be. It was also interesting that the Army had to test the food on citizens to see how it would effect them.

  • michaely-6-bar
    5/11/2016 - 10:35 p.m.

    Soldiers everywhere don't eat the same thing because the food is packaged in a can. The army/soldiers don't really have a say in what they eat they basically just get a can that is compacted with no air mainly. I think they should be able to at least have a little say of what they want to eat. I personally would like to choose but sometimes you can't always choose. I honestly think though as long as they eat it and keep fighting for us they should eventually be able to pick there food.

  • angelinat-3-bar
    5/12/2016 - 12:23 a.m.

    Soldiers everywhere don't eat the same thing because not all soldiers are supplied by the same companies, so they don't get the same food. The article says, "For American soldiers, Army-issued MREs come packed with everything soldiers need for a solid 1,200-calorie meal." The food that the soldiers get are from MRE which is probably not used by all soldiers around the world. I was interested in this article because it is cool to see what American soldiers wear. I was surprised by this article because I thought the soldiers would eat more than 1,200 calories per day.

  • matildav-nic
    5/12/2016 - 12:08 p.m.

    Soldiers don't eat the same thing because, they don't always have the same recourses. They also have to have healthy food to stay fit. They also like to reflect on where your from so they can give you foods that your used to.

  • reidi-4-bar
    5/12/2016 - 04:10 p.m.

    Soldiers eat MREs also known as meals ready to eat. The food is all or mainly freeze dried. The meals are commonly called bad and it is not a very good source of energy in their state. I just think that it is unfortunate that they have to eat that food.

  • jacks-6-bar
    5/12/2016 - 06:52 p.m.

    Soldiers elsewhere don't eat the same thing as American soldiers because of economic and cultural differences. The article states: "For American soldiers, Army-issued MREs come packed with everything soldiers need for a solid 1,200-calorie meal. They include several courses, beverages, flameless heating elements and utensils." While America has the financial ability to supply its soldiers with these such luxuries, other countries are not so fortunate; some militaries/countries simply don't have the money to supply their armies with equal, sufficient, or qualitative food. In fact, some can't afford to do so at all. America is still improving its food to this day, checking for harmful microorganisms, etc. that can damage the gut, yet most in other militaries have a much differentiated cuisine, resulting, resulting from their country's budget; usually much unhealthier and less than that of the American military's food.
    Another reason that soldiers don't eat the same around the world as American soldiers do is because of their different culture. The article states: "South Korean soldiers get treated to bibimbap and kimchi. French fighters are offered deer pâté and duck confit. The range of food varies greatly." Other countries provide soldiers with its native cuisine, which is wildly different from the American natural cuisine, being invented in an entirely different place. Soldiers do not eat the same thing everywhere; it can vary on what they eat based on their military's/country's cultural background is, and its food it demands. Colombians serve rice and beans, and Italians allow alcohol; all foods in most militaries are based upon that of their culture, therefore their convenience.
    I found this article interesting; I had no idea how much the military food varied from place to place!

  • lucasl-3-bar
    5/12/2016 - 07:16 p.m.

    As illustrated by the article, soldiers often get different food depending on location. Some countries have differing amounts of resources, and as a result, need to vary MREs to fit their resource and logistical capabilities. Also, soldiers from a given country will often enjoy food from home while deployed, as it boosts morale and performance. This allows militaries to succeed and the soldiers to be happy. The article was interesting because it showed a part of what it is like for soldiers to live away from home in a new environment, and how they can stay energized and positive.

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