Disaster food has never been known for being tasty. While the human race has been canning fruits and smoking meat for thousands of years, these foods have never been in high demand on gourmet dinner tables. Around the turn of the twentieth century, however, it seemed that these foods took a turn for the worse with the invention of the MRE. These meals have certainly saved the lives of millions of people over the past several years, but they have also earned a reputation for being some of the most terrible food on Earth.
Fortunately, the past ten years have done a lot to improve the taste of the humble MRE, and by extension a variety of other foods for survival. While the exact methods for doing this are considered to be trade secrets, it has been widely reported that food quality has improved by eliminating dehydrated foods and providing for a wider variety of tastes.
For many years, packets of dehydrated fruits, meats, and even bread were staples of many disaster preparedness kits. This was an early attempt to make food last longer and make it easier to transport. Unfortunately, it absolutely killed the taste and texture of many foods. Today, companies have come up with several different ways to keep food from spoiling while maintaining its taste and texture. Irradiating food has proven to be an excellent way to preserve meat, and surprisingly, one we learned from the fast food industry. Large chain restaurants invested a lot of money into figuring out how to transport a product thousands of miles without damaging its quality. Today, soldiers in Afghanistan regularly comment that their meal tastes just like one from their favorite fast food establishment back home, often because it was prepared in the same way.
Other foods have made use of chemical preservatives. Again, this discovery was not a wartime invention but rather the result of many major food manufacturers in the United States investing money to figure out how to get their products to stay fresh on supermarket shelves. Today, many survival foods are actually manufactured by these same companies. M&M Mars, for example, makes several different types of trail mix that is used by soldiers in remote combat zones. Rather than produce survival rations on their own FEMA contracts out to companies that produce potato chips, dried fruit, and other supermarket staples. The same chemicals that keep these goods fresh make survival food last for years.
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