Saturday, May 23, 2009

MREs

I like keeping some MREs around. ("Meals Ready to Eat" - US military rations). At some point I actually tried the rations they usually put in three day earthquake kits and decided it was worth it to just buy some MREs which are more or less edible and I'm sure under earthquake conditions would be just fine. It's also nice for road trips to have a couple of meals in the trunk just in case that town on the map turns out to not actually have the services you expected, or for camping, or... you get the idea. They're a bit more expensive but might actually get eaten before they expire.

Well, it came time to replace whatever was left and I went looking for some. Now, to be pedantic an MRE is technically a bag with a specific bunch of MRE components in them - an entree and a side dish and some peanut butter and so on and so forth and there's some document somewhere that defines them. They run about 1300 calories and the accessory pack includes not just salt and pepper and a spoon but matches and toilet paper and so forth. It turns out there are some legal issues with selling whole military MREs (the government doesn't want them vanishing before their time) but you can sell components.

Increasingly, seeing there's a market need for peole who would rather have a nice little pack with a full meal rather than a lot of bits and pieces, the three companies that make the stuff produce their own civilian labeled components and some other companies package up their own as well. You have to be a bit careful about what you're getting because they may or may not include all the little bits and pieces a real MRE would have, and I don't think anybody includes the full accessory pack since there's not so much need for some of that stuff. They also may or may not include the heaters (MREs include clever just add water heaters).

If you Google a bit you can find insanely detailed websites (if my vague description wasn't enough) including pictures of the spoons they all have. The military's gone to almost a soup spoon so people will eat faster and you may or may not really want that as an example. People who care about this stuff gett really into the whole spoon thing.

Well, I had to buy some other emergency stuff anyway, and I'd come to the conclusion that I wasn't going to get anything better direct from the makers, so I went with a third party company - Emergency Essentials. They're good folks - I've bought from them before. They assemble their own from components that seem to be from all three of the companies that make them. They have a fancier version with the side dish and heater and a basic version without. So in the basic version it's an entree, some kind of cracker or bread, peanut butter and jam, dessert, some drink mix, a piece or two of hard candy, and the accessory kit. All stuck into a ziploc. Not fancy but quite useful.

I of course after having done my research immediately looked at the accessory kit. Napkin, moist towellette, salt, pepper... and a spork. I love sporks! I can see it now... the power's out, it's going to be a few days for FEMA to do anything useful, we're sheltering in place but by God I have semi-edible meal and a spork to eat it with and a moist towellette for when I'm done.

Civilization indeed.

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