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What is dehydrated food?
Dehydration is the process of removing water from food to prevent bacteria, yeast, and mold from spoiling it. This process slows down the action of enzymes but does not inactivate them. Since bacteria and mold can only grow in the presence of moisture, drying is an excellent way to preserve food. Food can be dried in several ways – air, sun, controlled heat, and sublimation (freeze-drying). Dried foods are perfect for camping since they require no refrigeration, are lightweight, and compact. Outdoor Herbivore uses both dehydrated (heated air) and freeze-drying, depending on the product. Generally, our no-cook meals use freeze-dried ingredients.
Which of your products or food ingredients are freeze-dried?
All of our food ingredients are dehydrated (air dried at 130 - 135 degrees F) with the exception of 8 products - organic apples, organic blueberries, organic banana, organic broccoli, green beans, organic brown rice, organic green peas, and organic sweet corn. These products are dried using freeze-drying or lyophilization to retain nutrients and produce a superior texture and flavor. We use freeze-dried ingredients in the following products (as of 1/2019) -
- Freeze-Dried Apples - Apple Quinoa Oatmeal, AppalaChia, High Elevation Rice Cereal, Lazy Lentil Salad, Waldorf Slaw;
- Freeze-Dried Blueberries - Blueberry Maple Crunch;
- Freeze-Dried Corn - Blackened Quinoa, Fiesta Quinoa Salad, Cibola Couscous, Cool Down Gazpacho, Sunny Sunflower, Switchback Soup & Stuffer, Chili Lime Crunchies;
- Freeze-Dried Banana - Chia Oat Crunch & Coconut Chia Peel;
- Freeze-Dried Broccoli - Cheesy Sierra Couscous, Golden Forest Couscous, Pacific Crest Vinaigrette, Denver Veggie Scramble, Open Sky Yasai, Sunrise Tofu Scramble;
- Freeze-Dried Green Beans - Quinoa Vegetable Soup;
- Freeze-Dried Peas - Hop Pea Slop, Pea-Nutty Matchsticks, Chili Lime Crunchies, Open Sky Yasai;
- Freeze-Dried Mixed Vegetables - Asian Vegetable Mix;
- Freeze-Dried Brown Rice - High Elevation Rice Cereal, Lemongrass Thai Curry, Naked Freckle Burrito, Lickety Split Lentils;
Does Outdoor Herbivore use any chemical additives or preservatives in any of its foods?
No. All of our products contain only natural ingredients. We do not use or add chemical preservatives, synthetic flavors, or food coloring agents. Drying is our process of food preservation, either air drying or freeze-drying, and nothing else. We never use GMO ingredients.
How do you test cooking instructions for your products?
We test our products in the field using two different backpacking stoves -- an MSR pocket rocket and an alcohol stove. We test throughout the season in various climates at elevations ranging from sea level to 6,000 feet, however our instructed hydration times are based on 5,000 feet calculations.
At altitudes above 5,000 feet, meals require a longer soak/cook time. A general guideline is to add 1 minute of cook (hot soak) time for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain above 5,000 feet. Tips for high elevation cooking.
Why is eating organic food so important?
Many factors of a highly industrialized lifestyle contribute to a diminished quality of health, incidence of disease, and digestive distress. Besides the prevalence of chemical toxins in our natural environment, any processed foods you eat is likely to contain a variety of pesticides, artificial flavoring and color agents, unnecessary additives, intentional fillers, preservatives, and other intentional modifications to condition the food for cheaper manufacturing, a longer shelf life, and altered taste. All of these non-natural substances function as just extra toxins for the body to remove. Organic farming practices prevent the use of unnatural chemical agents that destroy soil and crop vitality. For instance, conventional farming will spray chemical herbicides to kill weeds, while organic farming will use traditional crop rotation and mulch to control weeds. Therefore, consuming organic food lessens your exposure to unnecessary toxins. Organic food is not only healthier for us, but it is also beneficial to the environment.
Are all foods certified organic?
Approximately 75 to 80 percent are certified organic by USDA NOP certifiers or QIP. A few products, such as spices and nuts, are not certified organic, even though they are grown and processed in the traditional manner and are the finest we can source. We are continually looking to expand our organic ingredients, eventually to become entirely organic. We feel organic farming practices are the most responsible way to nurture our land and body.
Does any of your foods contain Corn or Beet Sugar? Is your Sugar Vegan?
No, we do not use beet sugar or corn sugar. We use finely ground unrefined organic cane sugar. Organic sugar is vegan because it can’t be filtered through bone char. Bone char is prohibited as part of the organic program standards.
You have many ethnic dishes. Do any contain MSG? What about TVP?
There is no MSG contained in any of our products. We do not use hydrolyzed soy, texturized vegetable protein (TVP), or hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) either. HVP/TVP is a highly processed food that is high in sodium and glutamate. It is a low-quality protein and is frequently added to food products to enhance flavor or to provide a meat-like texture and taste. It is popular in many "vegetarian" entrées and backpacking meals. We are concerned about the consumption of this product and do not support it. We find that whole food plant ingredients offer superior nutrition and taste.
Finally, we do not purchase food ingredients from China due to safety concerns. Please see our food model, or feel free to contact us if you'd like to know the origin of a particular ingredient.
Are all your foods vegetarian?
Yes. All of our Outdoor Herbivore varieties are vegetarian, made with 100% meat-free ingredients (dairy and eggs are in a few products). We also offer many vegan options. Vegan backpacking food is our specialty.
Are your products certified gluten-free?
No. Our facility is not certified Gluten-Free, and some of the non-gluten products we purchase are not certified Gluten-Free grains. Our gluten-free products are those that contain no wheat, rye, or barley. We produce all of our products in a single facility with gluten-containing grains. We take all allergenic ingredients (including gluten, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, dairy, and egg) seriously, and have instituted the following procedures as part of our food manufacturing process -
- Produce products containing allergenic ingredients all at one time and/or at the end of a production run, then perform a complete clean-up with sanitization before the production of other products.
- Keep products from coming into cross-contact with other products on adjacent carts and tables.
- Manage and segregate products in storage to prevent cross-contact between allergenic and non-allergenic ingredients.
Always read the ingredient list carefully since our meals contain a mixture of many different allergenic ingredients. Although we do clean equipment and keep ingredients separated, we do not claim our products to be Gluten-Free because contamination during any stage of food growing and processing is a possibility.
Do your products contain sulfur?
No. Foods classified as "organic" do not contain sulfites since federal regulations prohibit the use of these preservatives in organically grown or produced foods. Sulfites can cause adverse reactions in sensitive individuals. Instead of the bright and colorful sulfite-treated dried fruits and vegetables, unsulfured dried foods may have a faded appearance or brown color, but are a much healthier choice.
Do you have a list of all of your food product attributes?
Yes, Outdoor Herbivore maintains a product attribute spreadsheet that summarizes and catalogs all of our food products, including the calorie content, weight, and common food allergens such as soy, dairy, gluten, and nightshade ingredients.
How do I prepare your dried meals?
The method depends on if the meal is a cold-prep or hot-prep meal. All of our meals fully hydrate within 5 - 15 minutes.
For cold-prep meals,
1) Tear open the packaging at tear notch and pour ingredients into a cup or bowl.
2) Measure the amount of water as directed on the package. Stir water into the ingredients.
3) Allow meal to hydrate for the length of time stated on the package. Enjoy!
For hot-prep meals,
1) Boil water as directed in a pot.
2) Tear open the packaging at tear notch and pour ingredients into the pot of boiling water. Stir well.
3) Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid to retain heat.
4) Turn off the stove and allow the ingredients to hydrate in the pot of hot water. Use a pot cozy for faster hydration. Enjoy!
Note: Our packaging is not intended to be used as an eating vessel or for adding boiling water to, so please pour the meal ingredients into a reusable container (i.e. cook pot, thermos) before adding boiling water.
Can you describe your packaging?
Outdoor Herbivore's packaging is compact to save on space and weight. We use lightweight, transparent barrier proof plastic packaging for our products instead of stand-up poly-laminated foil pouches. Our packaging is recyclable. Many of the other backpacking food brands use pouches composed of multiple substances, such as plastic and aluminum, which end up in the landfill because they can NOT be recycled in most municipalities.
Since our packaging is a lighter variety of plastic and is smaller in size, it is not suited for adding boiling water and consuming from. We recommend purchasing reusable high temperature zip-top pouches for this purpose; however, we do not endorse this method of food preparation. We encourage hikers to use a metallic pot for boiling water and soaking food rather than plastic bags or pouches.
Our focus is on food ingredient QUALITY. That is why all of our products are packaged in clear packaging so you can see the ingredient quality inside. We do not hide products inside of metalized bags, cans, or colored plastic. Our products are for active outdoor adventurers, those that plan to eat the food within 1 to 2 years rather than for preppers and long-term storage in a basement. Most of our customers agree to prioritize ingredient quality over fancy packaging.
How long will the food last?
Outdoor Herbivore's meals, on average, will last two years when stored under proper conditions. Our products do contain minimally processed whole food organic ingredients, such as brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, nuts, and seeds. These substances have a limited shelf life of about 1 - 2 years for peak quality. Please purchase only what food you plan to consume within that time frame.
How long can the food be stored?
Each product is stamped with a "Best Before" date. In general, most product shipped have a minimum 1-year shelf life. For highest quality, all food products should be consumed before this date. We recommend that you seal the food product in a sealed bag (such as a freezer bag) and freeze, or store in a dark, cool location if you plan to store it longer. If you store the sealed meals in a freezer, take the meals out a few days before you plan to use them. This will allow the condensation to dry off on the outside of the package. Make sure there is no condensation that has collected on the inside of the bag. If condensation does develop on the inside of the bag or on the food (because it was opened or there is a hole), don't eat it. The moisture can quickly grow mold or bacteria and isn't worth the risk.
Once the food is prepared (for home or office use), cover and refrigerate the unused portion and eat within 3-4 days.
How long can I use products past the Best By date?
Many of our products contain whole grains, nuts, and seeds, which have a higher oil content and can spoil if not stored properly. It is best to consume these products by the date printed on the package. If you want to extend the shelf life of these products, store them in an airtight location in the fridge or freezer. This can extend the shelf life 6 - 12 months beyond the Best By date printed on the package. The meals may not look and taste optimal, however, they should be safe to consume. If you do consume a product past the expiration date, we recommend using the smell test before consuming - especially on any that contain nuts, which can go rancid. The best way to describe the odor of spoiled nuts is that it will smell like paint. It's a distinctly unpleasant odor. When in doubt, throw it out.
How should I store the food?
Store in a cool and dry place, such as a kitchen cabinet. Never store food long-term in a damp place, on the ground, near heat or moisture. Do not store food in an area that experiences high temperature fluctuations, such as a garage, attic, crawl space, or car trunk.
Is it safe to order online?
We use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption to protect the security of your credit card information. To verify that you are connected to our secure server before submitting your financial information, check the page link in your browser bar. A closed lock or key before the link indicates that all communication between your computer and our server is securely encrypted.
Can I get a catalog of your products?
Yes. We have a summarized listing of all our food items to help you plan your order. To view the catalog, click here.
How can I get my local store to carry Outdoor Herbivore food products?
We encourage you to speak with the store manager and request they carry our products. Please let them know you are looking for Outdoor Herbivore's food products. You can print this letter and bring it to the store manager. Once you've done that, please send us a quick note telling us the name of the store. We will follow up with them to get Outdoor Herbivore in the store where you shop. Thank you for helping us to provide healthy dried meals for you and others to enjoy!
How can I review Outdoor Herbivore products or see reviews from others?
We would love to hear from you! We are continually improving our products and would greatly appreciate any feedback you can provide, both good and bad. There are a few ways you can provide us feedback:
- Review products you've purchased (look for our email, approx 20 days after you place an order)
- Tell us what you would like to see in the future by taking our Trail Food Survey
Where is your operation?
We are located in sunny Sacramento, CA (USA).
Can I pick up my order at your store in Sacramento, CA?
We are a manufacturer and do not have a retail store. However you can choose store pick-up if you'd like to save on shipping. Our pick-up location is at 4128 El Camino Ave in Sacramento, CA. Note: the pick-up option will appear only for Sacramento area residents. If you live outside the area and still want to pick-up your order, please input your name with our address as your shipping address.
Where do you Ship and How do you Ship?
We ship to Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, UK, most of Europe, and the United States, including U.S. Territories and overseas U.S. Military Bases. Most orders ship via USPS Priority Mail or FedEx. Please check our shipping page for detailed information.
How long will it take for my order to get to me?
The shipping time is dependent on your location and the shipping method. Orders ship the next business day and take 2 - 6 business days to arrive (United States) and 5 - 14 business days (international). Tracking information will be emailed to you when your order ships. If you create an account, you can also check the status of your order under your account details.
What is the status of my order?
If you have created an account with us, you may check on the status of your order by clicking on the "My Account" button on the upper portion of the page. You will be asked to enter your email address and password to retrieve the status of your order. If you did not create an account with us, you are sent an email with your tracking number when your order ships.
What is your return policy?
Outdoor Herbivore guarantees all of our products. If for any reason, you are not satisfied with your order, please call us at 1.916.800.4036 or e-mail us within 7 days of receipt, and we will promptly refund your money with store credit, re-ship/replace your order, or make other arrangements. If your order is received damaged, please take a photo of the original packaging (including the box the order was shipped in) so we can follow up with our shipping carrier. Due to Federal Law, we can NOT accept returns on unused purchased food items. We must dispose of it.
Yes, for physical retail stores only. Please click here to contact us regarding wholesale terms.