Jessica and Eric Matos, owners and founders of Ever Green Adventure Foods, met in 2013. At the time, Eric already had an Appalachian Trail thru-hike planned. When Jessica decided to join him, they knew they were a perfect match.
Since then, their adventures have taken them far and wide — from a proposal on the summit of Mt. Whitney during their John Muir Trail thru-hike to trekking in Argentina and Chile. They even completed the Tahoe Rim Trail with their four-month-old daughter in tow.
But no matter where the couple went, they kept seeing plastic food waste packaging in the backcountry.
“This (plastic waste) paired with an obvious lack of nutrition from most adventure food companies was the driving force behind Ever Green Adventure Foods,” Jessica says.
Ever Green Adventure Foods is focused on clean, organic, plant-based foods. Going even further, the packaging for their meals is entirely compostable, to be disposed of at home after it’s been hiked out. In the right conditions, the packaging will decompose in 16-20 weeks.
Want even more dedication to the cause? Jessica and Eric promote the ethical treatment of animals and give back to organizations that promote the “overall health of our public lands and trail systems.”
“We want to give back to the places that allow us to explore the outdoors in the first place,” they say.
Jessica and Eric made their first meals while planning their John Muir Trail thru-hike, as they were having trouble finding dehydrated foods that fit their standards — meals made with the freshest possible plant-based ingredients.
“The wall of food at your local retailer has been the same for decades,” they say. “Our hope is to inspire other ready-to-eat food companies to join in, and prove to the outdoor adventure market that they actually care.”
All Ever Green Adventure Foods meals are prepared, cooked, and packaged in their commercial kitchen space in Georgia. Their kitchen is FDA approved and inspected regularly.
The couple typically cooks 3-4 days per week, with a handful of family members and friends helping out. It’s a place of loud music, laughter, dancing, and mandatory fun. They focus on sourcing local ingredients as much as possible, including buying from local stores and farmers’ markets, and then fill in the gaps with larger retailers.
Jessica and Eric started packaging and selling Ever Green Adventure Foods just before Covid hit. They had leaped into it full-time, and without another income source, the result was a solid dose of pandemic-caused stress.
The other big challenge for them so far has been telling the Ever Green Adventure Foods story.
“Most meals in our market rely on fun glossy pictures, expensive marketing campaigns, and large wholesale orders to fill the shelves at your local retailer,” says Jessica. “Our meals have a story behind them, one of compassion, love, and sustainability. It’s difficult to tell each potential consumer these messages with just a picture and a caption.”
They want their followers and fans to know that when they support Ever Green Adventure Foods, they are part of something bigger — choosing food and packaging that comes from a sustainable place, in the process eliminating plastic packaging.
If you’re going to try just one Ever Green Adventure Foods meal, they want you to try the Bella Pasta.
“Mushrooms are an underrated superfood in our opinion,” says Jessica, “plus the Bella Pasta highlights (and helps protect) the Mt. Whitney area.”
Overall, the experience has been a positive one for the small backpacking food brand and the couple behind it.
“The love and support that we have felt during our journey from close friends to fellow outdoor adventurers around the world has been tremendous,” says Jessica. “We have had encouragement from environmental groups, plant-based foodies, climbers, surfers, van lifers, compost lovers, climate change activists, animal lovers…the list goes on!”
With things now opening back up, Jessica and Eric plan to donate time to trail maintenance, help organize projects, and continue traveling to share their message of sustainability and cruelty-free backpacking foods.
Maggie Slepian is a full-time freelance writer based in Bozeman, Montana. She is the co-founder of BackpackingRoutes.com, and spends as much time outdoors as possible. You can follow her here, or find clips and contact info at Maggieslepian.com