We recently discussed storage times for Meals Ready to Eat in the aftermath of FEMA throwing away $43 million of food improperly stored.

On a related note, I just visited the Natick (Mass.) Army labs, where they develop MREs and all of the U.S. Armed Forces’ food. There, I met separately with Dr. Herbert Meiselman and Gerald Darsch, director of the Combat Feeding group, to discuss how the Army views food waste.

I came to the topic after reading about it in Brian Wansink’s book Mindless Eating. Wansink helped the Army find ways to get soldiers to eat enough during combat. Looking at things from my perspective, that means there was food waste. 

There still is. It turns out that troops throw away more than a third of the packaged MREs they get. While Meiselman acknowledged this is a lot of food, he noted that there’s not much they can do about it. The factors that would increase consumption–leisurely eating, socializing during meals–don’t mesh with military operations. Staying alive and not providing the enemy with a centralized target take priority, understandably so.

Food waste, it seems, is just another cost of war.

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