Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Healthy Food For The Troops - May 1st, 2012

As a military wife and advocate for healthy eating, I'm concerned about the foods our troops receive while deployed. Because the food often travels thousands of miles, it can be full of preservatives, additives, coloring, sugars - the list goes on. It can be a challenge for our troops to eat a nourishing diet while protecting our country.

Recently, Michelle Obama announced she would like to help military personnel by providing healthier foods in mess halls, vending machines and snack bars on nationwide military bases. It's a start, and I hope her desire translates into positive action, but what about deployed troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places? Don't we owe it to these brave men and women to offer them healthier foods, too?

During my husband's deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa, he was stationed on a base with a dining hall. He brought some foods with him, I shipped him foods as the months went along, and he tried to make the healthiest choices he could with what was provided. My husband had the luxury of eating in a dining facility every night, but what about our troops on smaller bases or who carry food with them while they're on patrol?

Generally, the troops receive MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) when in the field. An MRE is a self-contained complete meal. The packaging and ingredients are designed to withstand heat, cold, rough conditions and last for about three years. Each MRE contains an average of 1,250 calories, so a soldier needs to eat three MREs a day to get the Military Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins, minerals and calories. An MRE generally contains a main course, side dish, dessert, bread, peanut butter, and a powdered drink. The processed ingredients in a typical MRE include: high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, modified food starch, sugar, msg, soy lecithin, hydrogenated vegetable oils, artificial flavors, and the list goes on.

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