In the Army, there are various levels of food availability, depending on where you are and what you are doing:
- Meals Ready to Eat (MRE): This is like the old C-rations but without the nice 5-pack of cigarettes. Normally, this is what you get if no mess facilities are available. MREs will keep you full and some don’t taste half bad. But you don’t want to look at the ingredients if you don’t like eating processed food.
- Field Mess: usually precooked entrees in big bags that are heated up. Bland as hell and low quality but the food was edible.
- Mess hall level 1: Mess halls in underdeveloped bases as in Iraq, Afghanistan or wherever contractors can get away with serving crappy food. A lot of people disagree with me, but I virtually could not eat the garbage at the mess halls in Iraq. I can eat only so many iceburg lettuce and fake cheese salads.
- Mess hall level 2: Mess halls on established posts, usually the food is
pretty decent, even if it is pretty bland and always overcooked. Rare steak? I think not.
One thing to note is that almost all non-tactical food operations are contracted out. Army cooks provide food when a unit is in the field. I think it is a shame, most of the cook soldiers I know are proud of what they do.
Some people call MREs, Meals Rejected By Ethiopia. They are edible, but as with all Army food, you have no control over ingredients or quality of the food. In Iraq, we had “steak and lobster” available once a week in the mess hall (they want us to call them the politically correct term “Dining Facility,” but they will always be mess or chow halls). One indication of the poor state of the American palate is that some people thought this stuff was great.
Kellog, Brown and Root (KBR) was the food contractor in Iraq when I was there and I think still is. I allege that they are in the business of making money, not giving soldiers decent food that in any way gets in the way of making gross profits. That “steak and lobster” came precooked (can you say overdone?), barely looked like what it was purported to be (I didn’t know humans were allowed to eat such low quality meat), and was absolutely disgusting. I tried it a couple of times and I couldn’t look at lobster for a year after I got back. But, I digress.
I came across an MRE entree while going through some things today and
thought I’d have some fun. I took photos of the box, the food pouch, the entree on a plate and Little Buddy actually eating what little bit I gave her. This was “formed turkey meat” with potatos and gravy. If you don’t eat MSG, you would be out of luck. But I am sure this is higher quality meat than a fast food burger.