I like hiking all year round. I have had had some wonderful hikes in various national parks, including Olympic, Arches, Canyonlands, Shenandoah, Muir Woods, and others. Each of these hikes has included a food stop. Oftentimes I bring my own lunch, but sometimes I have stopped at the food concession. So an article in the current issue of the National Parks magazine of the National Parks Conservation Association really caught my attention.
The article outlined long standing efforts at some national parks to introduce healthier, more sustainably produced food (often organic but not always). The National Park Service has actually been implementing a systemwide “Healthy and Sustainable Food Initiative” for the past several years. The general idea is to promote healthy lifestyles and local economies via fresher food. The National Park Service is setting the policy via its concessionaire contracts. The concessionaires will be offering varied healthy, sustainable food options at reasonable prices. As you might imagine from a governmental agency, terms like “organic”, “fair trade”, “low fat”, “low sodium’, and “seasonal” are defined in an official Healthy and Sustainable Food Choice Glossary finalized by the Park Service a few months back.
This effort will potentially have a powerful impact on both health and local economies. There are approximately 250 food and beverage facilities in the national parks system, serving upwards of 20 million meals annually. That’s a lot of food being upgraded across the country. As for me, not only am I looking forward to the next great hike (or historical adventure) in a national park no matter where it is, I am also looking forward to the fresh food that will be waiting for me at the end.
National Parks magazine article