Army Wants Willing Volunteers to eat MREs for 21 Days Straight





No, this isn’t some new survival school, or a phase or Ranger School- it’s quite possibly the worst detail ever. Army officials hope that from this study- one requiring three weeks of pure MRE consumption- will help researchers develop more digestive system-friendly meals. Of course, soldiers have lived off of MREs for much, much longer than three weeks, however no one actually bothered to study the effects to the body.

The study has a few main components it wishes to research: digestive health goals, nutrient addition, combating disease, and an overhaul to MRE menus.

Digestive health goals are pretty straight forward- there are quite literally trillions of bacteria inside a soldier’s digestive track, all of which need to be fed. There’s already a positive direct relationship between the state of these bacteria and the overall health of a soldier. In improving the health of these bacteria, soldiers can expect more energy, less disease, and overall better health.

The addition of nutrients will be decided based off of the findings in regards to digestive health. For example, should the study conclude that current carbohydrates in meals are inadequate, the Army aims to correct the problem. One idea already floating around is that plant-based materials could be used to extract bacteria, which could then put into First Strike bars (which actually aren’t too bad).

While adding things such as plant bacteria to First Strike bars aren’t noticeable so far as taste what is noticeable are the health benefits. Dr. Phillip Karl says, “we think we can manipulate the bacteria in a way that helps the bacteria fight foreign pathogens- things that cause food-borne illness.” We should all hope that the study also attempts to combat constipation that comes with prolonged MRE consumption.

Some of the new potential meal soldiers will be asked to try include drinks such as the Canteen Irish Cream Latte, entrees such as Bunker Hill Burritos, and desserts like the Fort Bliss-ful Pudding Cake (there’s noting blissful about Ft. Bliss, by the way). The Army is also toying with the idea of providing recipes that use what’s already included in MRE packages to help combat monotony.

The study itself will take place in Natick, Massachusetts; participants are allowed to consume only MREs, water, and black coffee during the tests.

Anyone with experience knows that some MREs are definitely better than others; here’s to hoping that the egg omelet is banished forever and that the lemon poppy-seed pound cake, and chicken enchiladas live on forever.