Creating a healthier energy bar for the troops
Sometimes, the stories one discovers while Shunpiking lead to things other than articles or TV series or books. Sometimes they lead to start-ups.
In Yuma, Arizona, while making my first documentary film (for Discovery) about Military Freefall School, I discovered that elite units were being fed custom-made energy bars designed by an Army food lab in Massachusetts called the Natick Combat Feeding Directorate. The bad news was that these energy bars sucked.
They had trans fat, and other weaknesses (not the least of which was a consistency akin to concrete that had gotten sick and lost its will to live). I knew our Soldiers deserved better.
So my brothers and I decided to make a better bar. We became the Army's partner, developed a trans-fat free high-performance bar that we named Soldier Fuel, and started winning all the Army's field tests of bars with troops (beating Clif and ProBar and the Army's own First Strike bar). Things looked great. Until we realized that corrupt elements in DoD contracting were blocking our bars from reaching the troops, so that old Crony companies could keep making dangerous trans-fat bars, along with millions of dollars in govt. contracts. Because we are crazy enough to belief that justice should prevail and it's worth fighting for the troops, we sued the crooked civilian feeding executives in the Army (who were poisoning the people in uniform) and beat them in the Court of Federal Claims, apparently making history, as the first small business to beat the DoJ in a CRADA suit.
We just wanted to get healthier and better bars to the troops, which we now do (even more so in Canada, Korea, Singapore, and Israel... where the military feeding directorates are not so corrupt).
The adventure chronicle
Off the beaten path...
into the heart of things.
I tell American stories that sing the unsung, with a focus on the inspirational characters that might get left behind or forgotten by the mainstream.
In order to find them, I practice the lost art of Shunpiking — knowing when to “shun” the turnpike and get onto the back roads where the good stories are tucked away. The ones that remind us of our best selves.
America is a patchwork quilt, and stories are its stitching. In a divided age, we need unifying stories more than ever.