ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Monday, August 5, 2013

5 Worst Canned Foods for You When Deployed

First let me say you won't believe this.

But since I'm your Deployment Monkey (aka Stunt Human) and trying these things out for you, you should really listen to me. Basically, I've sacrificed my body so you don't have to. 

If I'd have bet money I would have lost because no way are these particular canned foods that unhealthy. Okay, well maybe canned meat. I knew canned meat was unhealthy. I've actually looked at the side of a can of spam before. ::shudder::

But once again, it's not the first time I've been completely mistaken.
Quality Food Being Airdropped into Country

So, one of the things I miss when being deployed is supermarkets. I've never been a serious shopper, but the food store is different. I remember going with my mother when I was a kid, forced to go, constantly in trouble for touching this, or dropping that, or touching absolutely everything within my reach. I remember summers at my grandparents and my grandma would always take me to the store with her. God forbid she leave me at home where I might accidentally shatter every piece of china she has precariously perched on every available space.

Okay. Maybe grandma had a good idea. Plus, at least I'd talk her into buying me comic books. I talked my mom into those too, and also books. I scored my first Terry Brooks at a Kroger in Tennessee because I promised I'd be a good little boy.

But then I got older. I began to buy my own food and the ingredients began to represent possibilities. I could combine this meat and that vegetable and invent a magical sauce to create fill in the blank here spectacular freaking meal.

But there are no grocery stores in Afghanistan. Correction, there probably are, but they're not something I'd be able to shop at without getting into full battle rattle, bringing along a pistol and a long gun, and escorted by an operational support team in an uparmored vehicle. Almost killing yourself to get to healthy ingredients seems to be self defeating.Of course I could try and infiltrate one of the grocery stores in a burkha, but then I hate having anything on my head and I'm afraid I'd look too much like a big-shouldered ninja.

As an alternative, many of us deployed folks depend on boxes from home or our favorite online store. I'm the same way and since we can't count on fresh ingredients still being fresh after lounging in a box on the tarmac of Bagram Air Field for a week, we have to consider other strategies.

Like canned foods.

After doing a lot of research, I was stunned to discover that many of the canned foods I like are actually unhealthy... GASP... almost deadly.

Let's talk about salt, for instance. The United States Centers for Disease Control established an upper limit of recommended intake of sodium chloride (table salt) of 2300 mg per day, but recommends that most population groups limit their intake to 1600 mg per day. So forget about the high number and focus on the low number.

Why is too much salt bad for me? You mean besides high blood pressure, kidney stones and possible osteoporosis (*)? Also because salt makes your body retain water and makes us thirsty. Why do you think bars give away salted food? They want you to buy more drinks. When you have more salt in your body it causes you to retain water, which gives you the puffy look. How hard now does your body have to work to purge it of the salt when it could just be working on getting you in better shape?

There's a reason I lost 35 pounds in three months and it was paying attention to certain foods, especially these foods. Not only paying attention, mind you, but not eating them either.

So, here we go...

Canned Peas - This hurts my heart because I love peas. In fact, we have this joke at home. I love peas and my wife hates them, but not enough that she won't eat them if I make them. So whenever I say I'm making peas, she says, 'Yeah Peas!" like a demented culinary cheerleader.

Yeah Peas! Rah Rah Sisboombah!

Now, it's been reported by multiple outlets that virtually all the nutrients are destroyed by the long and high cooking temperatures needed to preserve peas. Additionally, many of what's left is leeched out into the water/brine during it's lifetime sitting on the shelf, or waiting in a warehouse, or sitting on a flight line. Plus, let's do a little simple math even an old soldier like me can figure out. If you read the back of a common can of peas, you'll see that it indicates that the serving size is 1/2 a cup (4 ozs). Each serving size has 350 mgs of sodium. If the can is 15 ounces, which is regular can size, and then the total amount of sodium in a can of peas is 1400 mgs.

What's your recommended limit again per day? 1600 mg? Yeah. I thought so.

Canned Meats - Dear lord, you could pick any one of them, but let's just focus on the perfect 'Lonely Guy Food'- Vienna Sausages. One can has about 350 calories, which isn't so bad, unless you realize that 300 of those are from fat (*) Then of course the little sausages from the Vienna beast also have mechanically separated chicken. If you've never seen Jamie Oliver's wondrous unveiling of what this looks like, you should see it. In fact, you can see it here at no extra charge.

Had enough yet?


Then let's move on to everyone's favorite Italian food in a can:
Canned Ravioli - According to the World Cancer Fund, this is one of the foods they've placed on their list of Foods Too Dangerous for Human Consumption (*), mainly because of the overwhelming presence of sodium nitrite. So you really want to eat a food on that list? That's like getting in line where a sign reads This is the line where you will probably die but go ahead and stand here anyway you moron.

Canned Chicken Noodle Soup - 1800 mgs of sodium and it also has sodium nitrites, see above.

Can of Juice - I usually drink water. All the time. There's no booze and no fresh milk here in The Stan. I don't want the empty calories of soda. But hey? There's some juice with vegetables on the side of the can. I bet that's healthy, right?

Not so fast.

If it says fruit juices, read sugar; even if it's naturally occurring. Check this out. During a test of orange juice in a diet and no orange juice in a diet after only one week, here are the changes:

Cholesterol went from 203 to 243 (out of "healthy" range)
LDL: from 127 to 165 (also out of range)

There were also to reported values which were a surprise:

Albumin: from 4.3 to 4.9 (out of range)
Iron: from 71 to 191 (out of range, aka “into the stratosphere”)
Now I can hear you.

So what? you say. Big horking deal? you explain violently. What do I care about albumin anyway, you juice-taking-away-Deployment Monkey?  You grab me by the neck and shake me. WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT ALBUMIN?

Nothing. Don't worry about it. It's just been reported to render testosterone inert and we don't care anything about that, now do we?

But listen. I'm no expert, I just figured this out myself. I'm just your Deployment Monkey. Why listen to me? Go ahead and eat these things.

And I understand why you don't want to trust the CDC. In the movies, they have been responsible for numerous zombie plagues and have failed to stop several dozen other biological catastrophes which have destroyed the world.

I wouldn't trust them either... except I do.

Weird that I'd trust the CDC to help me eat healthy, but not protect me against a zombie attack.

I guess it's just the choices we make like NOT eating little sausages from the wild Vienna beast.

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Please Note: This article is copyrighted by Weston Ochse. Any reproduction in whole or in part without the author’s permission is prosecutable by public law. If you'd like to borrow part of this or see it reprinted, contact me here. Thank you. © 2013 



  1. Arghghghgh. So much for my canned ravioli. So sad!!!

  2. Hey Wes,
    Try checking out this website: http://beprepared.com/ I've gotten a bunch of stuff from them and it's always been really good, plus they have great customer service. In particular the freeze dried fruits and dried veggies under the food storage tab.

  3. Check those out. They look pretty good. 99% of the time freeze dried fruit is so unhealthy because of the added sugar, but there doesn't seem to be any here, nor added salt. Wow. Cool site, thanks.

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