Have you ever cooked a meal for friends and experienced a moment of intense fear just before they take their first bite? What if it's terrible! What if they gag! What if it gives everyone food poisoning or they break out in hives! What if you completely screwed up the recipe and added peanut butter to the scrambled eggs or something?
Let me tell you, that fear is compounded when you're in the wilderness and therefore a healthy distance from any alternatives!
This past weekend I had the good fortune of being asked to join a group of women on an overnight in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The group was hosted by Wellbody Woman out of Fort Collins—Wellbody is a business that seeks to support women's health holistically, by focusing on four pillars: love, food, movement, and, the theme of this weekend: TRIBE. (Visit their site if you're intrigued—the concept is super cool and a definite antidote to a) dieting and body-shaming culture and b) online friendships that really need to evolve to IRL.) Because Wellbody focuses on improving women's health, of course they were looking for some healthy alternatives to traditional backpacking food. Enter, TRAILFORK!
Our menu consisted of various combinations of: Paleoats, Cinnamon Roll Oats, Peanut Butter Banana Oats, Spicy Peanut Noodles, Chicken-Sweet-Potato Curry, and our Loaded Veggie Hummus.
Usually I get feedback about the product in one of two ways: Either I'm doing a sampling and people give feedback in real time and then I rarely see them again, or I get an email after the fact. I typically do not have to be present as someone eats an entire TrailFork meal in front of me after a day of backpacking. And I say "have to" because it's mortifying! This is my food! These are my recipes! You PAID for this stuff! It's like stage fright and being in a quarterly employee review at the same time or something.
But fortunately, these women LOVED their meals! The Spicy Peanut Noodles were a total hit, and the oats in the morning were universally gobbled up. A total relief and also a reminder that with all the madness going on at TF HQ these days, we're still doing what we set out to do at the beginning: WE'RE MAKING GOOD FOOD. A few pointers that we're going to be taking into account in the coming weeks:
1. The portions for our custom meal kit servings were TOO BIG. Now, partially this is by design. I HATE that normal backpacking food portions are tiny (often around 300 calories, WTF), and I really wanted to be sure that our pouches satisfied a hungry hiker. But most of the women on this trip only ate about 2/3 of their meals, and even I couldn't finish off a full pouch. Yes, it does mean that you can save some unmade food for another trip, but in our case we had trouble fitting everything back into a bear canister to store overnight.
*Note that our formulas allocate the same number of calories for a 150 lb man as they do for a 150 lb woman. Maybe we need to tweak this?
2. SALT. Several women commented on how they appreciated that the meals weren't over-salted, and it's true that most backpacking food is super high in sodium. But I think we could balance things out a bit. I brought our Chana Masala to test out and I found that the cardamom was way too strong and wasn't balanced out by the lemon or salt. Stay tuned because we'll be adjusting the seasoning in a few of our recipes this summer!
In short, it was super rewarding to see TrailFork in action in the real, actual wilderness with real, actual women. This was the first backpacking trip I've been able to do since launching TF, and I couldn't have asked for a warmer, more enthusiastic, or supportive group of people to do it with.
Cheers to women in the wilderness!