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Essay: Food served to soldiers in World War II

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  • Food served to soldiers in World War II
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No matter where the wars are and who the soldiers are the soldiers have to be fed. They try to keep a higher calorie diet compared to normal civilians. The food they eat has to sustain them so they can be strong and willing to fight on the field of battle. Most diets of a soldier consists of 3,000 calories a day; now in today’s time for a person that’s not in war, that may sound absolutely ridiculous, but they needed to be strong and have enough “fuel” to keep fighting and stay alive. Most ration packs for the soldiers of WWII were cooked in field kitchens such as the A, B, and C Ration Pack of WWII. A famous propaganda poster from WWII states “Do with less so they’ll have enough” now that was telling the US citizens to stop buying a lot of coffee so that they could save some for the soldiers to get the energy from the caffeine. A ration pack usually consists of some sort of meat, starch, and a protein, during WWI they ate something called “bully meat” which in today’s time we would call corned beef. With advancements in the food industry, the Navy Seals of today can drink a blend of ingredients that can provide around 2,000 calories in a bottle just like a smoothie. Most food for the military personnel doesn’t taste good, you must substitute the taste for its nutritional value; we have to make sure what our soldiers eat keeps them healthy and strong. During WWII a poster came our stating “Food is a weapon, don’t waste it! But wisely, cook carefully, eat it all and follow the national wartime nutrition program” which was stating ration your food the soldiers over seas can win the war for you so you can have your families back since most people over 18 and healthy were drafted into the military because we were short soldiers due to the bloody battles. I want to prove that the food they serve the soldiers is not enough to sustain them for several days, at least bring some flavor to their mouths because they are fighting for us; we shouldn’t make them feel like they are in a prison cafeteria where people are punished instead of being honored.

The nutritional value of the food matters a lot. If the soldiers do not have the nutrients they need to survive in the climate that they are in or the terrain they have to go over; your going to have a lot of deaths by starvation and exhaustion. Most of the ration packs consist of about 2,800-3,000 calories per day for a soldier. The military ration packs of WWI were a older concept of canned foods. It usually consisted of “bully beef” or corned beef, mesh stew or bacon if your lucky, vegetables, and biscuits which were more like dog treats than anything a human is supposed to eat. Usually the meals did not look very appetizing because at the time we needed more money to use for weaponry and vehicles than for the food. It was usually packed into cans which weren’t the easiest things to get open with the can opener “keys.” If you were issued the Trench Ration you were in for a rough time, it was extremely heavy and most soldiers did not want it. It was most likely stored on the shelf of the trench because it was so heavy. It consisted of canned salmon, canned bully beef and canned sardines; there was a lot of food in this pack. With the Emergency Ration, it was generally used for emergencies. The Emergency Ration would consist of 3 beef cakes, bouillon powder, wheat, 3 bars of chocolate, salt and pepper. If you were issued the reserve ration you were in for some of the better food. In the Reserve Ration you would receive fresh bacon, a pound of bully beef, two cans of bread, coffee, sugar and salt. They also had the tobacco Ration; most people used cigarettes to calm themselves and for pleasure so they issued this Ration to people so they could smoke. It contained .4 ounces of tobacco and 10 cigarette rolling paper. Most of these rations were not enough to sustain them for several days but if they did have enough they were very heavy.

WWII is when the food started to get a little but better. A lot of the food started to be cooked in field kitchens and started to get “fresh.” There were a lot of different ration packs during WWII. First introduced was the “A-Ration” or “Garrison Ration” which was usually cooked in field kitchens. It consisted of a raspberry drink, cereal, muffin, jam and peanut butter, apple, salt/pepper, and some sort of sandwich based on preference. A bit different type of ration was the “B-Ration” which was canned food, prepared in field kitchens that had no need to be refrigerated. Another ration that the soldiers had during WWII was the “C-Ration.” Unlike the A and B Ration this one had precooked food. The “C-Ration” consisted of one pound of meat, beans and meat, meat and potato hash, meat and vegetable stew, and bread and dessert can. It usually lasted one day. Another type of ration pack was the “K-Ration which was the ration that was designed for light infantry, tank crew, and motorcycle infantry. It was usually Emergency packaged rations. Contained a dinner, supper, and breakfast meal. It was similar to the rations of today. Individual rations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner were also available. The dinner ration was a ration obviously enough for dinner. This ration contained a pork luncheon, canned American/Swiss cheese, bacon and cheese, biscuits, malted milk Tablets, caramels, sugar/salt, cigarettes, matches, gum, and a energy drink beverage powder. The Breakfast ration was a ration designed for what people would usually eat during the 1940’s in America. It contained Veal, Chopped Eggs and Ham, Biscuits, Dextrose, malted milk Tablets, dried fruit bar, oatmeal/cereal, water purification Tablets so the soldiers can drink the water that is stagnant, gum, and cigarettes. The other type of ration was the Supper Ration which provided about 2,830-3,000 calories for a single soldier. Inside the Supper ration was canned sausage, a random choice of pork-carrots or apples, beef and pork meal, biscuits, chocolate bar, tropical bar, toilet paper, cigarettes, gum and bouillon powder. Another type of ration from WWII was the “D-Ration” or the “Emergency Ration” which was a ration that contained a single high protein chocolate bar which could withstand extremely high heat. The last ration for WWII was the “Mountain Ration” which was designed for soldiers that were ski instructors, forest rangers, or experienced alpine travelers who were able to trudge through the mountains and rough areas. It supplied about 4,800 kilocalories per soldier per day. It contained biscuits, butter substitution, cereal, cigarettes, corned beef, dehydrated baked beans, dehydrated cheese, dehydrated potatoes, dehydrated soup, D-Ration bars(high protein chocolate bars), fruit bars, sugar/salt, gum, hard candy, lemon juice powdered drink, pork/sausage meat dish, milk, precooked rice, coffee, tea and toilet paper. This ration pack was very bulky, and the soldiers needed all of this food to survive through the mountains. During WWII the soldiers fought in all different areas and different types of regions such as the the mountains or fighting in tropical islands of Japan. It was a world war so the soldiers need certain types of food to sustain them through the terrains they need to get through.

In current day the ration packs are a little bit different. Most packs are packaged in tough plastic instead of cardboard boxes. The Navy Seals of today have a single blend of plant based nutrients, fats, probiotics, proteins and carbohydrates. The plants in the blend are wheatgrass, cacao, alfalfa, chlorella and spirulina; for the fats side of things they used sunflower, algae, macadamia, chia seed and coconut. For the probiotics they used chicory root, green banana, acacia fiber, psyllium husk and ten probiotic strands. To supply them with carbohydrates they used, tapioca and sweet potato. As for the proteins in the blend they used peas, collagen, whey and pumpkin. For this one single drink it will supply the seals with 400 calories and 27 grams of protein. On the other hand of things with packaged food they had the Sure-Pak MRE which goes back to packaged food. The Sure-Pak MRE provides the soldiers about 1,000-1,250 calories which I believe is not enough to get them through the heat and rough terrain of the Middle East. It contains a meat dish, a side along the lines of beans, a dessert, crackers, peanut butter spread, peanut butter spread, beverage powder, salt/pepper, moist towelettes, napkins, coffee powder, creamer, sugar and a water based heater. For a bit different type of MRE the “Wise Emergency food kit” is a civilian food kit of freeze dried food and it’s used in emergency survival situations; it comes in a large watertight bucket so your food will not get destroyed in emergency situations. A completely different approach on food supply for the soldiers is the “ER Bar.” The ER Bar is a 24,000 calorie food bar used in emergencies only, it provides a 72 hour food supply for a single bar. You are permitted and warned to eat 2 bars per day and there are 6 bars in a pack. They have a 5 year shelf life so you don’t have to really worry about expiration. This really answers the part of is the food enough to support the soldiers over seas and the answer is yes.

The food rations of WWI are absolutely nothing compared to what they are today. The food of today can supply up to 24,000 calories and a 72 hour food supply to a soldier where the diet of a WWI soldier was around 3,000. I believe that we can get the soldiers the nutrients they need to fight but also bring some flavor into their food; most of the food they eat does not have a great taste whatsoever but provides them with the nutrients they need. Since the cost of a MRE in today’s time is about 8.00 for the government and provides the nutrients they need but not really the taste. There has to be some way to balance out the equation by bringing some flavor to their food instead of the food they eat now which doesn’t have the best taste but still keep the cost fairly low per soldier. The wars that are being fought this day in age are completely different from the battles of WWI and WWII; the technology of today is far more advanced from the technology back in the 1910’s and 1940’s. Back in the 1940’s they were being fed mainly fresh food from field kitchens and that gave the nutritional value they needed and still savored the taste. Why can’t we bring back the style of feeding soldiers from WWII, the soldiers are fighting for freedom and should be given food that doesn’t taste like it’s from a prison where people are punished and not honored.

#World War 2


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