The civilian population has been holing away necessary provisions to keep them alive during hard times, since the agricultural revolution and long before. The threat of disaster, upheaval or the roving bands of barbarians has made the art of food storage a fine science.
After many millennia, the art of food preservation has become advanced indeed. Coming to a culmination in the MRE designed for military use. These packets of prepared foods were designed as a part of the soldier’s equipment and could withstand rough handling, be prepared quickly and can also last many years with proper storage.
The military MRE was the perfect survival food supply. It was lighter than canned food and could last juts as long. It was also far cheaper to produce then freeze-dried astronaut food and doesn’t require water or anything else to prepare – they are truly a Meal, Ready to Eat.
The problem was that the military MRE was designed for military use and those companies that produced them were not authorized to sell to civilians. There were some ways to obtain military grade MREs, but this was a far cry from a viable source of MREs geared toward the needs of civilian survival. A couple of companies decided it was a good idea to produce these amazing survival food supplies to the public.
In the year 1999, there was a legitimate fear that the Y2K bug would set the grid on a tilt and possibly affect supplies of food and water indefinitely. This never happened, but it didn’t stop the cautious from stockpiling civilian MREs produced by Sopako and Wornick, the primary manufacturers of civilian MREs at the time.
In 2005, the wake of Hurricane Katrine underscored the need for a reliable source of long-lasting food supplies. The devastating damage and considerable human suffering was evidence that nature is still boss on the planet and those that will enjoy their stay here will need to consider keeping a little extra food squirreled away on the side.
This resulted in a greater interest in the MRE and preppers were setting the guidelines for what suitable disaster preparation really meant. As the market for civilian MREs grew, the quality, variety and functionality of the civilian MRE did as well.
Today, MREs can be obtained from civilian manufacturers and military outlets on eBay, for example. While these food options provide a perfect solution for keeping well fed in a disaster, they have also been valued for their pure convenience. This makes them a terrific option for camping trips, hiking adventures and even just those days when you don’t feel like cooking a three-course meal 3 times a day.
What’s Better – The Civilian or Military MRE?
Today the non-enlisted person can stockpile civilian or military grade MREs. Whether for emergency supplies, camping trips or the many other practical uses, the first question many people have is “do I shop for Military or civilian MREs?”
In the past, before the market improved, the civilian MRE was an inferior product with none of the resilience or functionality of the military MRE. There was also far less variety in the food choices being served. But, all this has changed now and you will find the options provided from the leading civilian MRE manufacturers, like Wornick, Ameriqual, Sopako or us XMRE, to be every bit on par with their military grade counter parts.
When selecting the best MRE’s for your needs, the important features to look at include the calorie count, meals included and necessary components. Military MRE’s will typically have a calorie count of around 1,250 C per meal. You will find that the majority of civilian MREs also meet this same dietary support.
Most Military MRE’s will come in a pack with a variety of different meals, at the time of writing most Civilian MREs come in packs of a single meal. Of course, the market is changing so fast that many more options may be available this time tomorrow.
While most civilian MREs contain all the components (cutlery, heaters, sleeve, etc.) found in the military MRE, you will want to carefully scan the contents before making a purchase.
Other Points on the Civilian MRE
While a Civilian MRE may cost a bit more than the Military MRE, there are some points to consider that may make them the best option for your needs:
Predictable Quality – The Military MRE is a tough cookie, but it can be hard to tell the full story behind the package you buy. This includes the specific dates on each food package inside the MRE, to the history of treatment. Were your MRE wading through the swamps of the Sudan? Or left to heat in the baking sun of a VTOL in Okinawa? You never know! With a Civilian MRE, all the dates and packaging labels tell you exactly what you are getting for your cash.
Reliable/ Responsible Vendor – If your civilian MREs are not as you hoped for or you have other problems, you may be able to work out replacements or refunds. When dealing in military MREs you will pretty much get what you can and be thankful.