Farm to Summit uses ‘cosmetically challenged’ veggies to make yummy backpacker meals
I’m always on the prowl for good dehydrated meals to take on camping and backpacking trips.
I’ve long been a fan of Austin-based Packit Gourmet, which makes my hands-down favorite just-add-water dish – Dottie’s Chicken and Dumplings. But during a trip to Telluride for the annual Bluegrass Festival this summer, I met two women who’d recently started their own dehydrated meal company, called Farm to Summit.
Related: Taste Testing Packit Gourmet
I had to give it a try.
Farm to Summit’s tagline is “dehydrated meals that give a damn.” I might add “dehydrated meals that taste like real food instead of salt and cardboard.”
Company co-founders Louise Barton and Jane Barden, a Durango-based couple, teamed up in 2020 to start the companies. Combining their backgrounds in farming, fine dining and ecology, their meals are made with what they call “cosmetically challenged vegetables” from local farmers, the oft-discarded seconds that might not look as pretty as what you see on the Whole Foods Market shelf. You know the type – lumpy, oddball looking veggies that taste just as good as the perfectly shaped ones.
Barden grew up on her family’s farm in Michigan. She hates waste – especially unharvested veggies or “flawed produce.” She also worked in the restaurant. Industry. Barton, a botanist and research ecologist who loves to backpack, couldn’t find a backpacking meal she liked. The two teamed up to make their own.
When I met them at the Telluride street market, they sent me home with a packet of green chile mac & cheese ($13.50) to test. The packet sat in my pantry until last week, when I kayaked out to a floating campsite at Sea Rim State Park near Port Arthur, in southeast Texas.
It’s easy to make – boil 2 cups water, pour it into the packet of dried noodles, let it sit 20 minutes, add cheese packet, stir, and enjoy. It’s way better than that neon-orange stuff that Kraft makes and you ate as a kid. The green chile adds a zing, but it’s not overpowering.
For me, it ranks up there with Packit Gourmet’s line of foods.
Farm to Summit is not sold in Texas stores, but you can order it online at https://farmtosummit.com. Shipping is free when you spend $50 or more.