How we feed our soldiers gourmet food for just €4.20 a day
THE Irish Defence Forces may not have any Tomahawks – but they do have their rocket salad and avocado.
The 9,110-strong Defence Forces may languish near the bottom of the table when it comes to possessing military hardware, but is near top of the league when it comes to cooking gourmet food.
This follows the Defence Forces including ingredients that wouldn't be out of place on a menu in a top-class restaurant in its tender for fresh food.
It includes produce such as fennel, watercress, lambs lettuce, boc choy, aubergines, avocado, courgettes, chard, celeriac, chives and wild mushrooms.
Perhaps mindful that an army can't fight on an empty stomach, the tender also includes super foods such as blueberries, blackberries, sweet potatoes and ginger.
Fully embracing the 'foodie revolution' the Army's top brass has ordered 1,552kg of rocket salad leaves along with an assortment of herbs that include 70kg of basil, 68kg of chervil and 126kg of coriander.
In a move that would make TV chef Jamie Oliver proud, the Army insists that the ingredient cost of feeding each Defence Force member totals just €4.20 per day.
According to a Defence Force spokesman, the ingredient cost of each breakfast is €1.05, with each lunch costing €1.05 and each dinner costing €2.10.
The spokesman confirmed that the products sought in each new tender are based on advice of the catering personnel and "each schedule is varied to give as wide a choice as possible within cost in order to ensure nutritionally balanced meals".
The estimated daily spend of €38,262 on ingredients works out at around €13.96m for a full year.
Meals are provided three times daily across the Defence Forces' 14 military locations – some with several catering centres – and on the eight-strong Navy Service flotilla.
The business to supply the Defence Forces with fresh veg, fruit and eggs over the next three years is, with a large number of food firms who are expected to bid for the €1.2m contract for the three years.
The Defence Forces estimate that 126,302 kg of new potatoes will be required along with 100,332 kg of carrots, 44,818 kg of mushrooms, 11,922 of broccoli and 56,178 of turnips.
Firms wishing to tender for the contract have until July 28 to do so. The contract is to run from September 1, 2014, to August 31, 2016, with an option for a further year.