Being an Article on the Wisdom of 17th Century Military Rations and Their Appropriateness to the Modern Age
by David Green


A contemporary depiction of a plundering soldier.

A five-year long study has found that the nutritional guidelines used for the military and civilians in Australia seriously underrate the dietary needs of males doing arduous outdoor work, particularly in extreme climates.

This is not surprising in an effeminate age obsessed with ideological sound diets of tofu, lentils, brown rice, oat bran and vegetables; which diets perversely ignore the needs and desires of real blokes for meat and lard.

Chris Forbes – Ewan, of the food science branch of the Materials Research Laboratory in Tasmania (argh), said that the dietary guide-lines provided to the military did not take into account Australian climatic conditions, nor the strenuous demand of army training. He found that soldiers on exercises in the Snowy Mountains needed an average of 21,000 kJ per day, while those on manoeuvres in the tropics needed 19,500 per day. The recommended daily maximum is 16,900.

This disparity was causing the soldiers to feel faint and to perform poorly, as you might expect. Recently, with the knowledge that for standard exercises soldiers need about 17,000 kJ, the military diet has been “beefed up”. Reading this information in Food Australia, I was curious as to how the standard 17th century daily food issue stacked up to the demands of army life. A food technologist friend of mine made calculations of the following English Civil War period daily ration:

English Civil War Daily Ration

One pound of bread (454 grams) 4,500 kJ
One pound of meat 4,500 kJ
One pound of cheese 7,700 kJ
four pints of beer (2,400 ml) 3,000 kJ
Total 19,700 kJ

Bearing in mind the meat was often bacon, the kJ count would often have been higher. This amount is also what was issued and does not take into account such foods as were “garnered” along the march from nearby farm yards and village stores. As such, the 17th century soldiers diet, when it was issued, was reasonably adequate – as an English officer of the time observed “It is enough, cry the soldiers, we require no more!”.

I wonder if the doyens of the diet world, both civilian and military, would consider such a mighty feast for today’s hard-working men whether in uniform or not. I doubt it. I suspect there would be endless pontifications about the food value of pasta, rice, cereal, green vegetables and all the other crap which amounts to so much chaff and low grade filler – cow fodder if you ask me.