organic vegetarian meals for the trail

Tips for Purchasing Backpacking Meals made with Real Food

If you care about the foods you eat at home, chances are you also care about your trail food. And if your standard daily fare is made from fresh whole food ingredients, why wouldn’t you expect the same level of quality in your trail food?

Outdoor Herbivore’s Lemon Quinoa Tabbouleh

Obviously, most fresh foods don’t pack well; they may get crushed in your backpack and make a mess, or rot – neither one appetizing. So that leaves us with packaged foods.

Freeze Dried Eggs Photo Credit: Gigs / CC-BY-SA-3.0

In the past, packaged backpacking food corresponded to sodium saturated kibble. It consisted of food ingredients mixed with flavor additives to form a meal. Long shelf life and fast rehydration were featured over ingredient quality and nutrition. Thankfully, it has gotten better with time, and there are better choices today.

Yet lousy ingredients are still commonplace in backpacking foods!

Here is what to look for to determine if your trail food is healthy or not.

How to purchase genuine, healthy backpacking food

  • Don’t rely on marketing assertions which give statements such as, “all natural”, “no trans fat”, “made from real food”, “made from whole grains”, “non-GMO” and such on the packaging. Read the ingredient list instead.
  • Steer clear of trail food containing artificial food coloring, hydrogenated fats, flavor additives, MSG, nitrates, sulfates, synthetic preservatives, and hidden ingredients marketed under the blanket term “natural flavors” or “spices”. Backpacking meals that are made with whole foods mean better nutrition.
  • Look to see how the food is preserved to make it shelf stable. Backpacking food can be either freeze-dried or dehydrated. Freeze drying and dehydrating are different methods for preserving food. Dehydration involves heated air (or sun drying) and destroys some of the nutrients while freeze-drying retains the most. Some companies use only one method while other businesses use a variety of techniques. Outdoor Herbivore uses both freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients.
  • Check where the product is made. Food quality and sanitation standards fluctuate widely between countries. Outdoor Herbivore has a strict policy of purchasing local ingredients and never purchasing ingredients from China. Read more about our food model.

Outdoor Herbivore’s customers often tell us how important their diet is to them. For some people, this means eating plant foods, organic ingredients, or merely restricting junk food. Whatever the reason, the focus is a sensible one because healthful eating is one of the easiest ways to defend yourself against disease and improve overall well-being.

We love eating and making good food at Outdoor Herbivore and are pleased to offer you wholesome backpacking food that will enhance your health and wellbeing. 

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Creating trail-worthy foodstuff and playing outside.
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