Would you eat food cooked in your own urine? Food scientists working for the US military have developed a dried food ration that troops can hydrate by adding the filthiest of muddy swamp water or even peeing on it.
The ration comes in a pouch containing a filter that removes 99.9 per cent of bacteria and most toxic chemicals from the water used to rehydrate it, according to the Combat Feeding Directorate, part of the US Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts. This is the same organisation that created the "indestructible sandwich" that will stay fresh for three years (New Scientist print edition, 10 April 2002).
The aim is to reduce the amount of water soldiers need to carry. One day’s food supply of three meals, weighs 3.5 kilograms but that can be reduced to about 0.4 kilograms with the dehydrated pouches, says spokeswoman Diane Wood.
The pouch – containing chicken and rice initially – relies on osmosis to filter the water or urine. When two solutions of different concentrations are separated by a semipermeable membrane, with gaps that allow only water molecules to pass through, the water is drawn to the more concentrated side.
This gives new meaning to piss-poor rations.