Exhibit A:  Military Ready Meal (Vegetarian)

Exhibit A: Military Ready Meal (Vegetarian)

We planned our reconnaissance.  We reviewed our mission.  We reported for active duty.  We hauled our gear.  Then we sat down to eat my first MRE (Military Ready Meal or “Meal Ready to Eat”).

Anyone believing this one?  Yes?  It’s absolutely true!  This evening, the 16th of April, 2009, Barry and I decided to take a picnic out on Point Abbaye, a nine mile jut of land which separates the Keweenaw Bay from Huron Bay in our Lake Superior.  We had to picnic. The temperature reached 60 degrees!  The maximum road speed is 26 mph if you’re speeding, with ruts and mud threatening to cancel our deployment.  We took the car thinking the dry conditions would not necessitate our all-terrain vehicle (also known as the 1949 Studebaker truck). 

Wrong!  The mud looked impassible without a four-wheel drive, near the point.  We backed up until discovering a possible turn-around, then found a picnic spot beneath a white pine overlooking a sheer cliff drop-off.

Near the sandstone cliff:  "Don't get too close," we kept repeating to each other.

Near the sandstone cliff: "Don't get too close," we kept repeating to each other.

We’ve been planning this for months.  By some strange circumstances, we were given a couple of vegetarian MRE’s last year.  The heavily bagged military meals lingered in our basement food room as we pondered the exact opportune moment to eat them. 

The fella who gave us the MRE’s explained they were highly prized booty in other countries.  In a certain foreign country (which shall remain nameless) the troops were assisting the locals.  The locals wanted the MRE’s very badly.  They were known to appear dragging live chickens to beg for a trade.  Once they arrived with a cow for a barbecue to trade for MRE’s.  Someone shot the cow…the cow bolted off into the jungle…it took the troops two hours to chase down the cow before it collapsed.  At least that’s the story.  Some barbecue!

Look at everything inside a single MRE!

Look at everything inside a single MRE!

So we settled down to open up our MRE and examined the contents.  Here was our dinner:  pasta with vegetables, applesauce, crackers with cheese and pound cake.  There was also “Charms”, gum, seasoned salt, napkins, matches AND a handy chemical heating packet to cook the main dish.  You filled the outer wrapper with water, up to the line, and secured it, preferably with a rock.  We couldn’t get close enough to the lake to haul water (our original plan) so we cooked our meal with an inch of ice tea activating the heater.

It wasn’t really that bad.  (Although I am a person who actually likes airplane food, so please take that into consideration if you’re anticipating dining on your own MRE.)  It wasn’t, of course, anything like the healthy fresh-vegetable and hearty grain dish that we usually enjoy.  But it was…OK.  I’m not sure we’ll try another one in this lifetime except…well, that’s not true…there’s one left in our basement.  Menu No. 12, Bean and Rice Burrito, Vegetarian.

Processed cheese and crackers, army style

Processed cheese and crackers, army style

Barry samples the applesauce

Barry samples the applesauce

Our gourmet main course; pasta with vegetables (Menu No. 11)

Our gourmet main course; pasta with vegetables (Menu No. 11)

Unfortunately, the Army has a big problem, in my opinion.  Or, rather, the Earth has a big problem with these MRE’s.  Someone needs to design a more eco-friendly meal.  Less wrappings.  Or more eco-friendly wrappings.  Less litter.  Something more bio-degradable.  Although I’m not sure how that would work when you need such long-term storage. 

The litter which remains

The litter which remains

Calling all earth-friendly armed services guys and gals with extra time or energy on your hands:  Can you start a movement to make the packaging eco-friendly?  And thanks for the meal!  It made our picnic real…unusual!  (Our next picnic we’re bringing tabouli, hummus and whole wheat date walnut bars…)

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