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Backpacker Magazine – September 2008

Freshen Up with Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Upgrade your trail menu–and lower your carbon footprint–with farmers' market fare.

by: Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan


In summer and early fall, farmers' markets overflow with fresh, locally grown produce. You'll carry more weight than with dehydrated ingredients, but on short treks and basecamp trips, backpacking gourmets know the extra ounces are worth it. Fresh fruits and veggies from a nearby farm are more nutritious, longer-lasting, and better tasting than produce that's been shipped cross-country. And since grocery-store fare travels an average of 1,500 miles, another bonus of most local produce is reduced carbon emissions. Here's how to add the season's freshest flavors to your next weekend trip

Beyond Tomatoes
Your farmers' market probably offers a lot more than produce. Look for these trail-friendly local treats.

  • Snack on jerky and summer sausage from a nearby farm.
  • Stuff bakery pitas with hummus and veggies.
  • Boost gorp with local dried fruit.
  • Sweeten homemade trail bars and oatmeal with honey.
  • Munch on cheeses from a nearby dairy.

Pack right

  • Don't wash or slice produce until you're ready to eat it (this extends pack life).
  • Pack non-squishable fruits and veggies in breathable paper bags.
  • Stash crushable items in your cookware or a Lexan bottle.


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I backpack with fresh veggies and it works great. I don't try to build whole meals around fresh food when on multi-day trips; instead I add small quantities of fresh stuff to more standard dried fare. Fresh veggies that travel well (in my experience): onions, garlic, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli.

Frying a little onion, garlic and/or bell pepper in your cooking pot before cooking up dehydrated soups or pasta sauces makes them taste significantly better. Broccoli and carrots are easy to chop up and add to a simmering pot towards the end of cooking to inject some real food flavour and nutrition.

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