This is not the first time the US Army has tried to pass off dehydrated vegetables as the equal of "fresh."
Dessicated vegetables were issued to Union troops in the Civil War. These were a mixture of potatoes, cabbage, turnip, carrots, parsnips, beets, onions, peas, beans, and celery. The vegetables were cleaned, shredded, mixed, dried in ovens, and pressed into hard blocks. Supposedly, one cubic yard of desiccated vegetables provided 16,000 individual portions. Large blocks were issued to companies and then sawn (yes, cut with saws) into roughly one inch cubes for individual issue.
According to General George McClellan,
"Desiccated or dried vegetables are almost equal to the fresh, and are put up in such a compact and portable form as easily to be transported over the plains. They have been extensively used in the Crimean war, and by our own army in Utah, and have been very generally approved. They are prepared by cutting the fresh vegetables into thin slices and subjecting them to a very powerful press, which removes the juice and leaves a solid cake, which, after having been thoroughly dried in an oven, becomes almost as hard as a rock. A small piece of this, about half the size of a man’s hand, when boiled, swells up so as to fill a vegetable dish, and is sufficient for four men. It is believed that the antiscorbutic properties of vegetables are not impaired by the desiccation, and they will keep for years if not exposed to dampness”.
Soldiers in the field, who actually had to eat the thing, had a different opinion, calling them "desecrated vegetables."
According to one trooper (E. N. Gilpin of the 3rd Iowa Cavalry), "We have boiled, baked, fried, stewed, pickled, sweetened, salted it and tried it in puddings, cakes and pies; but it sets all modes of cooking in defiance, so the boys break it up and smoke it in their pipes!”
Charles E. Davis of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteers wrote, "It was at Darnestown that we were first made acquainted with… ‘desiccated’ vegetables… it tasted like herb tea. From the flow of language that followed, we suspected it contained powerful "stimulating"* properties.”
*from context, Davis is describing a laxative effect
John Billings, author of "Hardtack and Coffee", described it as "sanitary fodder for the soldiers... more suitable for Southern swine than Northern soldiers."
Abner R. Small of the 16th Maine Volunteers observed that when cooked, this “substitute for food” reminded him of "a dirty brook with all the dead leaves floating around promiscuously.”
Hopefully, this experiment will turn out better.
"I think," said Christopher Robin, "that we ought to eat all our Provisions now, so that we shan't have so much to carry."