Food and Drink

(Video John Napolitano/

Birdgford Foods Corp. is touting new kinds of Meal Ready to Eat, or MRE, with flavors ranging from cherry turnover to barbecue beef. And not only do they taste like food, they’re actually really good. staff tasted a sampling of the products while interviewing Richard Mueller, divisional sales manager for the Anaheim, California-based food supplier, on Tuesday at the annual Air and Space Conference. [click to continue…]


Army scientists are looking to vacuum microwave drying, or VMD, technology to create new, quality items for rations that may also reduce the warfighter’s carrying load.

U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center researchers hope to acquire the pilot scale equipment to develop items that meet the stringent requirements of military rations that must be shelf stable for years in extreme climates with no access to refrigeration, according to a recent press release.

The rapid drying technology would enable the creation of lightweight, nutritious, inexpensive shelf-stable foods, including cheese, fruits, vegetables and meats. Such items could be incorporated into the following rations: Meal, Cold Weather; Food Packet, Long-Range Patrol; and Meal, Ready-to-Eat.

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MRERations on the battlefield have come a long way over the history of war. Military scientists are constantly trying to make them more nutritional — and although it’s hard to believe sometimes — taste better.

As part of’s “5 Things You Don’t Know” series, we took a look at the history of rations and where they might be going. For instance, U.S. military leaders didn’t start worrying about how the rations tasted until 1944.

As for the future? Having a hot dog or a piece of pizza printed for on the battlefield is not out of the realm of possibility. Check it out here. And for mobile readers, use this link.


Joe Florko — a former federal law-enforcement officer and wilderness ranger for the National Park Service for nearly 10 years – has started an emergency-preparedness company that assembles gear packages for first-responder and aid worker types.

As a gearhead, I love putting together my own emergency kits and sometimes spend a week or so organizing just the right combination of gear.

But I suppose there are some people out there who just need a good assortment of kit and need it fast. So for these lost souls, there’s Florko’s Zyon Systems.

“We offer professional-caliber, configured emergency kits,” he said in a recent email. “I’ve used my experience responding to emergency calls and hauling people out of the back-country to build completely turn-key emergency response packs.”

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The U.S. Army is working on an improved version of the Flameless Ration Heater that doesn’t need water to heat Meals, Ready-to-Eat.

“Unlike the current ration heater, the Air Activated heater does not require water, a valuable battlefield commodity. This new approach to heating and advanced technology aims to lower cost, weight, and logistics burden of chemical heating technologies,” according to Army officials at Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

The Air Activated Heater contains a peel away layer that, once removed, allows air to penetrate the holes of the outer foil layer. After passing through the felt diffusion layer, the air reacts with the activated carbon, electrolyte, and rate-controlling binder, producing a safe exothermic reaction, Natick officials say.

This new technology will heat the MRE entrée by 100 degrees Fahrenheit in less than ten minutes. Negligible hydrogen off-gassing eliminates operational and transport restrictions associated with the current heater and offers improved safety, according to Natick.

The DoD Combat Feeding Program plans to transition the technical data to Defense Logistics Agency – Troop Support for use with the MRE.

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size0U.S. Army scientists have created a new smartphone app help commanders plan for how much water their soldiers will need on a mission.

The Soldier Water Estimation Tool, or SWET, is designed to simplify water planning, task that can be a logistical nightmare for leaders. Too much water can strain already heavy combat loads, forcing some soldiers to pack too little in favor of a lighter pack. When soldiers don’t have enough water, dehydration could set in, decreasing performance and increasing the risk of serious heat illnesses.

“Water is a huge logistical problem for training and field missions,” Nisha Charkoudian, a research physiologist from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, known as USARIEM, Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division, said in a recent Army press release.

“Obviously, planners do not want too much, but having too little can lead to serious problems. Dehydration exacerbates symptoms caused by heat and altitude exposure, and makes a lot of things worse, including the ability to perform physical tasks in hot and high-altitude environments.”

Charkoudian worked with researchers from USARIEM and a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory to develop an app that will help unit leaders accurately predict water needs with the goal of minimizing the burden of water transport and sustaining hydration.

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The U.S. military wants to know how nutritional supplements such as protein shakes can speed up the rate at which a soldier can heal from a wound or spot an enemy on the battlefield.

The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, or USARIEM, in Natick, Mass., is leading a study that seeks to measure how physical stress such as sleep deprivation affects a soldier’s immune system in various environments, according to an official news release. [click to continue…]

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