fresh trek

Burns Lake freeze-dried food company is keeping it local in every way

‘FreshTrek’ provides meals for outdoor excursions that are made right here in town using all local products.

Fresh Trek owner and founder Waneta Nealis, and her husband Matt have been a staple in the Burns Lake community for years. A former instructor of 23 years at the College of New Caledonia, Waneta decided to use the pandemic as an opportunity to embark in a new business venture making healthy freeze dried meals using all products from the local area.

The idea for the company came from a guiding territory up north owned by them. Waneta would make freeze dried meals for hiking and camping trips, and they were very well received. The couple then decided to try their hands out selling them.

The innovative design of the packaging as well as the freezing method makes for a lightweight, compact product that’s perfect for carrying into the woods, but the best part about Fresh Trek meals is the quality of the food.

“I love to cook, I have a gardening background, and most of all I love local produce,” Waneta told The Lakes District News. “All supplies are from B.C., as local as possible.” She also added that the honey used for breakfast meals is from Vanderhoof, all meat are grass fed and come from Burns Lake, and lots of the produce is from her own greenhouse.

Recipes range from breakfast to dinner with options such as oatmeal, rice pudding, hubbard squash soup, chili, beef stroganoff and chicken curry among others.

Nealis told us that the product is perfect for hikers, hunters and campers who expend a lot of energy in the outdoors. “All the meals are all high calorie and high energy with no fillers, so they’re definitely meant for people who are hungry.”

The food is all freeze dried at -40 degrees, then the moisture is sucked out via a vacuum cycle. The process takes 50 hours to complete. According to Waneta, freeze-drying prevents the food from shrinking like it would with a dehydration method, and the re-hydration process is much faster as well.

When Lakes District News asked Nealis what the best option on the menu is, she provided two options. “The chili is my personal favourite, and the hubbard squash soup is the most popular among the customers.”

After spending years as a college instructor, Waneta said she’s enjoying this new venture with Fresh Trek. “I love it, I love how supportive local businesses have been with ideas and helping me any way they can, and the support from customers has been great as well.”

Fresh Trek is available for purchase in Burns Lake at Woods N’ Water Sports and Recreation store as well as Green Zone Grocer. The products can also be purchased in wholesale online for outfitter companies. You can also visit the website www.freshtrek.ca for wholesale purchase.