3/11/2012 1:37pm, #1
Civilian MRE review: Wornick Eversafe!
Some of you who have met me in person know that I really love eating MREs. Once that salt and those nitrates and fortified vitamins hit my taste buds, mmm! I just can't say no to a good pouch of mexican style corn or spaghetti in meat sauce along with a protein-rich snack bread washed down with a good caloric dairyshake.
A couple weeks ago I decided to contact Wornick Company directly and see if there was any way I could order MREs directly from them. To make a long story short I found out they make a civilian version of MREs which they call the "Eversafe", and the price is right! Whereas buying a military MRE from the surplus store costs 8 dollars in my local area, a case of 12 Eversafes costs a little over 50 bucks before shipping, or to 5 or 6 bucks for 1000-1200 calories cost of shipping inclusive. What with the price of food going up, that's about as cheap as eating at McDonalds, except your nutritive value would be better because of the vitamin fortification of the products, so unlike fast food it wouldn't be entirely just empty calories, and you've got a much wider variety of tasty entrees with MREs.
I was so excited to have ordered this product that I took photos with the intention of writing a review. Please see attachments to share in the sense of excitement I felt opening the case for the first time!
The entrees are the same ones you've come to know and love in the military version. However, the Eversafe only contains one entree, whereas the military version contains 2.
The side dishes, such as the fortified snack breads, pound cakes, and so on, seem to be the same. I feel the inclusion is really key since the breads are vitamin fortified and contain additional protein. I noticed that the Eversafes never contain the 200-calorie-per-spoonful voodoo peanut butter or my favorite cheese spread. So the lack of the magic peanut butter and cheese is definitely a loss of value, but it's not the end of the world, I guess.
Even though the Eversafes are missing an entree and voodoo peanut butter, they still manage to weigh in at around 1000 to 1200 calories. How do they do this? I think they made up the calories cheaply by including a packet of M&Ms, Tropical Skittles (high in vitamin C, if you can believe that!), and Peanut M&Ms in each Eversafe, and also by including a packet of Beverage Base Powder (with the sugar) in each meal. So, a lot of the calories are from sugar. The military versions, though, still provides a lot of calories by containing candy (which sometimes has lots of vitamin C like the tropical skittles) and beverage base powder, so again, the military version is a bit better but if you think about it, it's probably less of a difference than you might initially feel it is. Also, the way I see it, I can save the beverage base powder and the salt packets from the accessory pack to create oral rehydration solution in case myself or a member of my party exhibits symptoms of dehydration, so that's real good for camping, outdoor activities, or emergency situations. Each Eversafe pretty much contains a dose of oral rehydration solution mix if you look at it that way. Also, the guaranteed bag of candy in each Eversafe is useful if you needed to treat hypoglycemia in a camping or wilderness setting, so even if you're not a candy eater (I hardly ever eat candy) I can see that component as having first aid value.
I'm happy to be able to say that some of the Eversafes contain dairyshakes. Oh, delicious, caloric, vitamin D rich dairyshakes, so good...
The accessory pack in the Eversafe, as you might expect, doesn't have all the nice things the military version does, like the toilet paper and gum and waterproof matches. However, for civilian purposes, you probably don't need these items or could easily stock them seperately if you really wanted them, so I consider that a very acceptable cost savings. One thing that I do like about each Eversafe accessory pack is that it contains a packet of instant coffee, because I really love coffee. Not all military MREs contain instant coffee and I am always bummed when I rip open a military MRE and realize that it is not one that contains coffee. Another important point is that the Eversafe always includes a chemical heater, which is one of the key items that makes modern military rations wonderful.
It's worth pointing out that the Eversafe MRE bag is similar to the military issue MRE bag, so you could equally attempt to use the Eversafe bag to stabilize pneumothorax. That's always good utility for an outdoors or emergency situation.
Basically, the military versions are definitely better, but the Eversafes are priced better and could be very adequate as emergency food if especially if you're not going to be physically active to the point you're requiring huge inputs of carbs and protein. From the Eversafe, for a relatively sedentary emergency situation or a casual camping or outdoors situation, you could be getting enough calories just from eating the entree and the carbohydrate side which are exactly the same as the military versions. The cheaper Eversafes may be all that you really need unless you're really going out there and doing strenous physical activities all day.
However, there is one drawback to the Eversafes I would consider significant.
They never include a hot beverage bag! There's a chemical heater and instant coffee but no hot beverage bag! That has got to be an oversight. And in my mind a significant drawback because I could not attempt to use the chemical heater and the instant coffee in the hot beverage bag to treat hypothermia in a situation where I had no power or fire.
The way I see it, the thing to do would be to order a case of Eversafes, and supplement that with a certain number of military MREs. That way you'd have a few hot beverage bags and so on if you needed it, and for special occasions you'd be able to enjoy the voodoo peanut butter and cheese spread, but you'd be saving money especially if you were saving up significant amounts of food for an emergency. Plus most of your entrees would be guaranteed fresh instead of being from the surplus store expiration date lottery.
Eversafes...guaranteed fresh, and pretty good for the price.
3/11/2012 3:04pm, #2
I clicked on this thread for the WTF factor, but this was actually very interesting. How did you come to eat MREs? How much work would you say it is to prepare one of these meals (as relates to fatigue)? What has your experience been like in general, and what can you tell me about why someone below the poverty line should look into this?
Living with family keeps things stable for now, but things will get very tight the moment I move out.
3/11/2012 3:36pm, #3
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3/11/2012 3:54pm, #4
Cool! I love MREs too!! I didn't know you could order them from the company! I'm guessing this is where you got them: http://military.wornick.com/solutions/eversafe
3/11/2012 6:49pm, #5
To clarify, I've never served in the military. But I became interested in military rations after reading many Vietnam War memoirs and reading many peoples' individual stories and anecdotes about C-Rations.
In terms of preparing a modern MRE, very little work is required. If you're starving hungry and dead tired all you have to do is rip open the packaging, grab the plastic spoon from the accessory pack, and eat. The thick foil packaging can give you a nasty papercut so I'd use the spoon instead of trying to stuff my face into the packaging. :) I usually like to bring an extra paper plate with me when I go and eat MREs on a hike or something so that I can empty all the pouches onto and eat off of a plate.
In general my experience with MREs has been overwhelmingly positive. I know that lots of people like to joke and gripe about MREs but honestly I think they're tasty and have what it takes to keep you going in a strenuous physical situation. I think it helps to be knowledgable about diet, exercise, and health, though, so that if you're *not* in a strenuous physical situation you know what you should eat now and what you should maybe save for later. Some components have more food value than others and if you're not physically active it might be a bad idea to simply eat the whole MRE.
This sort of leads into your question about MREs as some kind of food solution for people living below the poverty line. In my opinion, there are a few problems with that. First, MREs are high in calories and sodium and low in fiber. So you're going to have problems with weight gain and constipation and blood pressure. If you're poor you really can't afford to risk your health needlessly by eating what would be an unhealthy diet in the long term for someone with a sedentary lifestyle. For example, the packet of M&Ms is nice if you're hiking all day, but if you're not, you really should NOT eat 1 or 2 packets of M&Ms every day. Secondly, as far as the Eversafes go, you would need to order them by the case from Wornick. So you might not be able to afford the case plus shipping, which could come out to a total of like 60 or 70 dollars.
That being said if I were living in a very uncertain situation it sure would be nice to be able to keep an emergency stockpile of food which I knew would be able to at least keep me from starving for maybe a week or so.
That's my take on the pros and cons for someone living below the poverty line.
3/11/2012 6:51pm, #6
3/11/2012 7:36pm, #7
Ration packs taste fantastic if you're on your chinstrap after a few days on STANTA, but I can't comprehend how you would choose to eat them if fresh and recently prepared food was available.
Even though British ration packs include pate and yorkies, that doesn't compensate for the general shitness of the food.
3/11/2012 8:38pm, #8
During boot camp I wrote quite a few letters to my family including my grandmother. In these letters, I had complained about the MRE's more than once. When I came home from boot, I couldn't wait to eat my grandmother's cooking. When I walked into her kitchen I saw an MRE on a plate with a canteen beside it.
I ran out the door. That was a good one dad.
The military MRE's were always filling, but I have seen grown men cry at the sight of yet another dehydrated pork pattie.Shut the hell up and train.
3/11/2012 8:51pm, #9
3/11/2012 9:07pm, #10The thick foil packaging can give you a nasty papercut so I'd use the spoon instead of trying to stuff my face into the packaging. :)
I know that feeling.
The military MRE's were always filling, but I have seen grown men cry at the sight of yet another dehydrated pork pattie.
That said, surviving on them for extended periods of time would lessen thier charm a little.
Thanks for your review, interesting and provokes some consideration. Emergency food stores would be a useful thing (for, you know, zombies) escpeically while camping or hiking.
I did a quick serch and found this site:
Handy. Has all the information on various MRE's, including Australias. And your civilian ones.
And the Australian company responsible for all of my cheese can bombs is an arm of the Department of Defence: Defence science and technology orginisation, Defence Nutrition. They do not appear to have a company website devoted to them. I don't know if you can pick them up at army surplus stores. :(
Chaos? Panic?... Disorder??
.........................My work here is done.