The Canadian Armed Forces food rations offer a variety of different high energy meal types including salmon, chicken, and spaghetti and meatballs. Each meal pack (IMP) offers 12,000 calories.
“If we have access to pots and potable water with a Coleman stove they can be warmed up slowly in about 10-15 minutes. Because we are on the go, 90 percent of the time we tend to eat them cold,” said Lt. Jessica MacAllister from Garrison Wainwright.
She went on to say that when in the field, some are better than others and that they have another option that when mixed with a half-ounce of water, a chemical reaction heats it.
“It’s a wonderful invention that adds no additional weight to our rucksacks,” said Lt. MacAllister.
The IMP’s are packaged in Ottawa, and offer a range of cultural varieties including halal, poutine, vegetarian, curry, etc. Ration packs are created and tested for palatability and appearances as well as how long they can be preserved.
“Most last 2-4 years, but vary depending on the contents, for example, bread,” said Lt. MacAllister.
According to Lt. MacAllister, the testing also focusses on morale and packs include dessert; some fruit, and some sugary delights. Similar to offering pop machines at the garrison, she explained that even though they may not be the healthiest choice, that these extra items boost morale.
Packs also contain a juice high in sugar that helps replace electrolytes to keep members’ energy up.
“There is a strong preference among members for the breakfast selections, which include sausage and eggs. The bread with peanut butter and jelly is always a favourite if you don’t have time for a main course. You can eat it on the move, and it provides a good quick fix.
Some members even hoard the breath mints and chicklets gum for when they get a chance to relax. The gum is a life saver after being in the field a couple of days or when you have to wake up at 3 a.m. It provides an opportunity to freshen up or feel human - those little things matter!” said Lt. MacAllister.