"Two years into the Revolutionary War, a surgeon general in the Continental Army issued a pamphlet on nutrition. 'The diet of soldiers should consist chiefly of vegetables,' Dr. Benjamin Rush wrote in Directions for Preserving the Health of Soldiers. 'The nature of their duty, as well as their former habits of life, require it.' Directions' counsel sounds thoroughly modern, like advice from good-food crusaders Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman—and it probably fell on deaf ears. It was routine, in Rush's time, for soldiers to consume a 'pound or two of flesh in a day.'"
So turning our soldiers into vegetarians will allow them to join the ranks of the legendary vegetarian warriors from the history books. (Hint, there aren't any.) I'll note that we won the war Rush wrote about, despite not following his advice.
"Five years ago, Sonya Cable, an Army lieutenant colonel and dietitian who works for the command that trains recruits, began analyzing data showing that more than 60 percent of soldiers were nondeployable due to dental issues and were lacking in calcium and other vitamins that help the body prevent and recover from injuries."
Oh no. A dietician. In a uniform... Weston Price would have told this lady what to do, and it wouldn't have involved more vegetables.
Reading this reminded me of another group of athletes that recently adapted a diet geared mainly towards vegetables: the Boston Red Sox:
"Today’s post is about another group of people who frequently break their bones and don’t heal well: the Boston Red Sox....
"...If a biomedical scientist were asked to contrive a diet that maximized the likelihood of bone fractures, the advice would be:
It seems that this is precisely the advice that is being given to the Red Sox and their minor league players."
- Eat lots of grains to induce rickets.
- Eat vegetable oils and non-tropical fatty plants to reduce bone mineral density.
- Avoid animal and dairy fats to deprive the body of fat-soluble vitamins needed for bone mineralization, such as vitamin K2.
- Do not take nutritional supplements, in order to maintain a deficiency of bone nutrients.
Since that's working so well, let's adopt the same diet for the Armed Forces!
I'm mostly making fun of the Slate reporter here, the one who closes her article with:
"The recently-released Dietary Guidelines for Americans for the first time ever stipulates that produce should take up half the plate. At the very least, that recommendation and Hertling's approach should be strongly considered not only by other Army commands, but by all the armed services."
That would be these dietary guidelines, btw.
Clearly the military would be well advised to do something about the poor diet they're feeding their soldiers. Hopefully they'll do something more sensible than what the Red Sox are doing.
(Thanks to John Durant for the link to the Slate article.)