You are what you eat, some say, and the navy certainly understands the importance of a nutritionally good diet. In this blog, you can learn about the foods involved in feeding navy forces in the UK and USA, as well as part of the processes behind it.
The British Navy seeks to construct its meals from a range of ingredients, but it lends special weight to certain requirements. According to the Ministry of Defence, as reported by The Guardian, the prescribed diet is built on values of nutritional requirement, appeal, ethical and sustainability.
Where possible, the British Navy seeks to use British sources where competitive. Reports of food provided are generally quite positive; John, a weapon engineer officer, reports that his typical breakfast is hearty or wholesome, and sets him up for the day of work.
The average day for the catering service aboard a navy ship starts by serving breakfast to the crew, then later there is lunch and dinner, and later serving drinks to the officers. The catering services are also trained to supply VIP meals in case an important person, such as a member of royalty, is aboard the ship.
The US Navy has similar values to the British Navy in prioritising its diners’ health and happiness, but there are also strict guidelines for food consumption based on task and situations. For example, diets in extreme heat avoid fat and excessive protein because these food groups are known to decrease heat tolerance.
On the contrary, in cold climates, whole grains and nuts are the dish of the day for the vitamin thiamine which improves energy metabolism. Excess fat and protein are still avoided in extreme cold, on the off chance that it leads to stomach distress and subsequent water loss.
Protein ingestion is also closely monitored in high-altitude operations, because it increases fluid loss and, subsequently, can lead to dehydration.
Making the Food
To be one of the chefs aboard a navy vessel is a huge responsibility; as the chefs in the video below state,
‘the fight stops with us, if we can’t get our people right, then we’re gonna lose that fight, right from the get-go’.
It’s important that the provisions are right, or the rest of the crew will suffer, and it’s a gruelling job too, with some days turning into sixteen-hour shifts. You can learn more about a US ship’s kitchen process in the video below:
Smaller ships are likely to see smaller crews, and meals might change depending on weather conditions. A ship on the high seas, for example, might not be a safe place for certain kitchen activities. You can learn more about a morning on a small UK ship here:
Depending on the ship, ‘chef’ might not be the only job that the caterers hold. Sometimes, chefs will hold other titles and responsibilities onboard too. This talented chef also practices firefighting aboard her ship as one of her many skills:
Whichever navy diet you’re looking at, you’ll notice a trend where foods that are high in fat, sugar and/ or sodium are generally quite limited. This is because the navy prioritises food that offers long term health benefits and nutritional value, as opposed to the immediate calories that fast food-type dishes provide.
Irrelevant of what’s being served up in the mess hall, it’s important that these spaces stay clean and tidy to maintain the health and morale of your crew. As a ship chandler, we have all the materials that you need to keep your ship clean and hygienic. Get in contact with us if you’re interested.