SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Soldiers must face many dangers - exhaustion, battle, loneliness and MREs.
MREs are the vacuum-packed food that soldiers eat on deployment. The initials mean meals ready to eat, but over the years, soldiers have developed many alternative explanations, including meals refused by everyone, meals rejected by the enemy and lots of other permutations best left for conversations in a bunker.
I've eaten lot of MREs while war reporting. Most people don't join the Army and expect to be fed by Nigella Lawson. U.S. Army dietitians really seem to do their best to provide for a range of tastes, from standard American comfort food to Latin American and Asian specialties. But soldiers always wind up comparing the beef stew to dog food and the meatballs with marinara sauce to something the dog left behind.
Now the U.S. Army is asking for volunteers to eat MREs and nothing but, for three weeks. They want to see what an unrelenting diet does to a human being's digestive system, in search for ways in which the meals might be improved.
Volunteers must be willing to have their blood drawn and submit themselves to other medical exams. Participants will be paid $200. But so far, there is no Purple Heart awarded for eating MREs. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.