Military Grade Brownies


John Telgren


Have you ever made brownies or cookies? Recipes for brownies or cookies usually can fit on an index card. However, military grade brownies and oatmeal cookies come with a 26-page document laying out all the rules and regulations you need to follow to make them. The recipe, or "formula" as they call it, leaves nothing to chance. Everything is strictly regulated. According to the regs, the brownies are not to exceed 3 inches by 3 inches by 5/8 inch, and the cookies, cut in rectangles, are also to be cut to similar size. Even the shortening and nuts are regulated. Here are some excerpts:

3.2.4 Shortening, hydrogenated. ... The shortening shall have a stability of not less than 100 hours as determined by the Active Oxygen Method (AOM) in Method Cd 12-57 of the Commercial Fats and Oils chapter in the Official and Tentative Methods of the American Oil Chemists Society...

3.2.5.3 Nuts, walnuts, shelled. Shelled walnut pieces shall be of the small piece size classification, shall be of a light color, and shall be U.S. No. 1 of the U.S. Standards for Shelled English Walnuts. A minimum of 90 percent, by weight, of the pieces shall pass through a 4/16-in diameter round hole screen and not more than 1 percent, by weight, shall pass through a 2/16-inch diameter round hole screen...

This may seem to be overkill, until you understand the rationale behind such strict regulations. Jeremy Whitsitt, with the Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate, told NPR that the recipe is intended to produce food capable of withstanding the most brutal field conditions.

''What would happen if you cooked a meal, stored it in a stifling hot warehouse, dropped it out of an airplane, dragged it through the mud, left it out with bugs and vermin, and ate it three years later? If it were a military meal," Whitsitt says, "it would still be edible and maybe even tasty."

So, it is important to follow the formula. If not, then the food will go bad and the men and women in uniform will go hungry.

This reminds me of when Jesus said, "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you..." (Jn 6:27a). The food that Jesus is talking about is the bread of life that has a shelf life of eternity as does those who eat it. Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever" (Jn 6:51a). This eating metaphor communicates that Jesus is to become part of us. It is similar to Paul saying, "yet not I, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). When we model ourselves after the word that has become flesh (Jn 1:14), and follow his instructions, it will mean life (Jn 6:63). Only he has the words of life (Jn 6:68). This means we follow his instructions and his life and accept no substitutes so that it, and ourselves will endure to eternal life.