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Farmers Market: Farm to Summit fights food waste with dehydrated meals

Farm to Summit founders Jane Barden, left, and Louise Barton sell dehydrated foods at the Durango Farmers Market. A portion of their profits goes to improving food security. (Nick Gonzales/Durango Herald)
Duo contributes percentage of cook-in-bag meal profits to food security

The farmers market is an obvious place to get food to cook at home, but Farm to Summit is making meals to take off the beaten path.

“We make dehydrated meals,” said co-founder Jane Barden. “They’re perfect for backpacking or camping, really any sort of outdoor adventure.”

To fight food waste, Barden and co-founder Lousie Barton collect seconds – imperfect produce – from local farmers and dehydrate it to make meals that cook in the bag with the addition of hot water.

“For us, it doesn’t matter if a carrot’s a little crooked,” Barden said. “It’s great for us – still plenty of nutrients. We just put it in our dehydrated meals.”

Farm to Summit’s meals – which currently include breakfasts, dinners and sides – place a lot of emphasis on Southwest flair, using green chile and Anasazi beans from the Mesa Verde cliffs. Its packaging is 100% compostable and recyclable, Barden said.

The duo recently got into a commercial cooking space, which will include an industrial dehydrator, allowing them to amp up what they’re doing, she said. For example, they work with the Good Food Collective, which gleans apples among its other programs.

“Ideally, we’ll use their their leftover apple chips and make a dessert out of that,” Barden said. “It’s totally an evolving thing.”

Farm to Summit is still in its first year. It started working last fall with farmers to gather as much produce as possible and dehydrate it as quickly as possible, she said. Over the winter, they were able to dial in all the logistics of the packaging and licensing. It debuted at the Durango Farmers Market this season.

As part of their dedication to fixing broken links in the food system, Barden and Barton have also committed part of their business to improving food security.

“Any meal that’s purchased, we’re going to give 2% of the sale to a local nonprofit that’s working with food waste,” Barden said. “It perfectly kind of boils down to about 25 cents a bag. At Manna, 25 cents is about equal to a meal, so it’s almost like ‘buy a meal, give a meal.’”

ngonzales@durangoherald.com

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