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Another clueless newspaper review of MREs

Posted: Wed May 30, 2007 8:06 am
by kman
Check out this latest MRE review from Phil Vettel of the Chicago Tribune. Writers like this need to understand the concept of "context". In the context of his favorite 5 star Chicago restaurant, I'm sure MREs are the "dreck" that he "can't imagine anyone finishing". But in the context of being in the field and/or being in an emergency situation where your food options are limited, MREs don't look so bad.

By ignoring the context, he's just being a lazy writer trying to take a backhanded slap at the military powers-that-be by accusing them of providing substandard food.

Originally from:
As if war weren't difficult enough

By Phil Vettel
Article Launched: 05/30/2007 03:04:29 AM PDT

After forcing down just a few spoonfuls of the food they're expected to eat every day, I have an even deeper appreciation and concern for our men and women in uniform.

Small wonder our servicemen are having trouble maintaining weight, if what I tasted is representative of what they're fed in the field. This dreck could (and perhaps should) be repackaged as diet food, because, despite the high caloric content, I can't imagine anyone finishing the stuff. The MRE Diet could sweep the nation, although there might be landfill issues down the road.

I sampled two main courses and a dessert, and here are my reactions:

Beef roast with vegetables: Absolutely awful. The meat's texture is soggy, the vegetables have been ground into indecipherable bits (apart from the tell-tale orange of the carrot fragments) and the gravy is reminiscent of something from a can. With a wagging dog on the label.

Penne pasta with spicy vegetable sausage: At first blush, acceptable. The pasta is predictably limp (canned supermarket pasta suffers the same fate), but the tomato sauce isn't horrendous and some vaguely fennel-like substance has been applied to the vegetarian sausage. But the seasoning has a chemical aftertaste and, 15 minutes later, the tip of my tongue was still tingling suspiciously. Not a good sign.

Crunchy toffee cookie: Actually good! It comes out of its protective pouch looking like an actual cookie, has a pleasantly crunchy texture and imparts discernible butter and caramel flavors. Among our troops, these crunchy treats must be worth their weight in gold.

Re: Another clueless newspaper review of MREs

Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:45 pm
by gschultz9
I'm new to this board, but have to say that this is an example of something that really gets me angry. I understand soldiers in the field complaining about MRE's and the rest of the chow they're given (it's something that's always been done), but I've been watching videos on YouTube lately that are much like this article. They seem to think that MRE's should be compared with something one would find in a restaurant (or cook themselves at home). The fact that these meals are designed to feed soldiers in areas where it would be difficult to go out and cook them food in a more traditional manner, as well as the fact that they're fully self-contained and designed to remain edible for years doesn't seem to matter to these "reviewers". I'm glad to know that there's a community of people here who appreciate MRE's and other rations for what they are and what they are supposed to be.

Sorry to be stating the obvious, but like I said, I'm new here and just starting to look around.

Re: Another clueless newspaper review of MREs

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:53 am
by housil
1-Each wrote:
Sorry to be stating the obvious, but like I said, I'm new here and just starting to look around.
First of all, welcome to forums, thank you for your posting and enjoy your stay :D

Re: Another clueless newspaper review of MREs

Posted: Fri May 06, 2011 8:44 am
by gschultz9
Thank you housil! I'm actually planning on making a video for YouTube about exactly WHAT MREs are meant for (feeding troops in the field/disaster relief...) and what they're NOT meant to be (gourmet food from a five-star restaurant).

Re: Another clueless newspaper review of MREs

Posted: Fri May 06, 2011 8:42 pm
by rationtin440
not to get all "mercyme" here but "I can only imagine" what this reviewer would have said about the MCIs if he were around back in the day. I will admit the first MREs that I had with my unit (besides the one that made me sick) were not as good as what we had in 1999 and 2000, but they were much better than the 1978-79 MCIs we were eating 10 years later. Actually the taste of MCIs was not the issue (as long as they were hot----and being a crewman on an M-113 tracked ambulance in 1988-89, I always had the means to heat them), but rather the lack of variety especially with the sides and desserts.

Re: Another clueless newspaper review of MREs

Posted: Sat May 07, 2011 12:02 am
by Bypah
The thing is that they don't get it they are RATIONS to be used when there is no fresh food available. :shock: :shock: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Of course they will be supplemented by fresh foods from a field kitchen or local sources....
Recently I talked to the USMC-JROTC Sargent Major at my school and he mentioned that he never liked or likes the MRE's.... :lol: :lol: only when needed in the field and for that he told to drink plenty of water!!!!! On the other side he favored the RCW/MCW and the "lurps" LRRP's menus that in his opinion tasted better than the regular MRE's.
:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Re: Another clueless newspaper review of MREs

Posted: Sat May 07, 2011 1:48 pm
by cablemonkey
Sounds like this guy doesn't eat much preserved food, if any. As kman points out, you have to put it into context; these things are designed to be shelf-stable for years! There are going to be some unavoidable trade-offs in flavour and quality with the amount of processing that is needed to achieve those goals.

I think most of the retort pouch meals are as good as or better then commercial canned equivalents.

It's important to make fair comparisons or your results will be meaningless. This article was written by a restaurant critic who has probably not eaten anything packaged for long term storage in years.

But he did like the cookies, so I guess they can't be all bad.

Re: Another clueless newspaper review of MREs

Posted: Sat May 07, 2011 8:14 pm
by rationtin440
I have a cousin who served in a LRRP unit in Vietnam, and he told me that the lurp rations had too few carbs and that they were not enough food to sustain the men. not sure how true it is.

Re: Another clueless newspaper review of MREs

Posted: Sun May 08, 2011 4:26 am
by Cracker
Don't forget that we didn't have the food knowledge that we have now, same goes for conservation techniques. It might be well possible that they didn't have all the right ingredients to sustain the men.