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October 2005

Freshen Up: Fruits and Vegetables on the Trail

Liven up camp fare with these 35 natural foods.

Think a fresh tomato on day 3 is an impossible dream? Think again. Many fruits and vegetables can withstand the rigors of the trail and are compact and light enough to warrant packing. Use our day-by-day guide and stay-fresh tips to perk up your backcountry menu.


If Eaten By…



berries, eggs, lettuce/greens (washed and bagged), raw meats (see “The

Big Chill” below)


Avocados, broccoli,

eggplant, mushrooms, olives, peaches, pears, string beans


Bell peppers, cauliflower,

celery, cucumbers, herbs, radishes, summer squash, zucchini


Apples, cabbage,

carrots, cheese, unshucked corn, garlic, jalapeños, lemons,

limes, tomatoes, onions, oranges, potatoes, salami and other cured


Keep in mind that foods last longer in cool, dry weather. If it’s really steamy, subtract a day. Bruised fruits and veggies will decay faster.

Before You Go

5 tips for keeping fresh foods fresh

  • When shopping, choose underripe fruits and veggies.
  • Pack fragile foods inside pots or hard plastic containers that can double as bowls.
  • Stow durable veggies in brown paper bags, which breathe better than plastic bags.
  • Keep foods whole until you’re ready to use them; once cut, they go bad quickly.
  • Conserve water in camp by giving your produce a quick rinse at home, then a thorough drying before you pack them. (Exception: mushrooms and berries will deteriorate rapidly once washed.)
  • If you’re paddling and weight is not a concern, pack produce in a cooler with ice blocks (the bigger the block, the longer it’ll last) or, better yet, dry ice.
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