The Secret to Eating Vegetables at Burning Man

[Guest blogger Jennifer Scribner is a lazy foodie and enthusiastic Burner since 2006. As a Nutritional Therapist and the founder of Body Wisdom Nutrition, she specializes in helping people learn to prepare delicious whole foods to heal illnesses by healing digestive problems first. She wows her campmates and neighbors with seemingly gourmet meals that are actually based on minimal effort in the default world.]

The only vegetables I brought to my first few Burns were small packages of baby carrots. Anything other than that seemed like too big of a hassle. Why take time to fool with veggies on the playa when I want to be out participating? Plus, won’t they just go bad in a couple of days? I’ll stick to my string cheese and goldfish crackers, thanks.


By my fourth Burn I thought, “If eating veggies in my daily life makes me feel awesome, why would I give them up for the week when my body is exposed to extreme conditions?” I became determined to figure out how I could make eating veggies at Burning Man easy and convenient. That’s when I stumbled upon the secret: chop all your veggies before you leave for the Burn, then seal them up in plastic containers or Ziploc bags and pack them in your cooler.

It really is that simple, and here’s a guide to which veggies are worth bringing based on how long they last:

Variable, but tend to go quick: avocado and freshly chopped herbs like cilantro or basil. Avocado will last 1-3 days depending on how ripe it is when you buy it. Pop it in the cooler to slow the ripening process.
Lasts up to 5 days: cucumber, chopped Roma or whole cherry tomatoes (other varieties are too soft), sweet and hot peppers, mushrooms, and green onion.
Lasts all week: yellow and red onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and cabbage. Chop your garlic and ginger, put them in small containers and pour olive oil over them to preserve them, then just spoon out a little bit as you need it.

Here are a few ideas for how to eat all these veggies you’re prepping:

Breakfast: sauté veggies and add them to scrambled eggs.
Snacks: cabbage wraps with a cold cut, mustard, tomatoes, and peppers tossed in. Carrot and celery sticks, or pepper strips with dressing, pesto, or hummus as a dip.
Lunch/dinner: Stir-fry, taco salad with shredded cabbage as lettuce, burgers and hot dogs with cabbage leaves as the bun – my favorite discovery since bread doesn’t really sound all that good in the heat. Unless it’s a grilled cheese (and broccoli) sandwich.

Plan your meals so that you’re using those veggies with the shortest “freshness-span” in your meals early in the week at the Burn. Use a well-insulated cooler and make sure you keep it well-stocked with ice for best results.

Bonus ways to make eating veggies even easier: make a stir-fry or soup in the default world, freeze it, and just reheat it on the playa. See my article How to Eat Real Rood at Burning Man for more ideas. Or bring a container of roasted veggies that can be eaten warmed or cold as a side dish (check out my blog for a delicious Roasted Ratatouille recipe).

When you eat veggies at the Burn you have more energy to participate harder and recover faster. I had no idea how much better my Burn could feel and I think you’ll love it too!

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase

Will Chase is Burning Man's former Minister of Propaganda, working on global communications strategy. He was the editor-in-chief for the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter and the Burning Man Journal, and content manager for Burning Man’s web properties. He also oversaw the ePlaya BBS and Burning Man’s social media presence. Will first attended Burning Man in 2001. He volunteered as the Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art HQ) and was on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008. He was Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004 until he transitioned to the Communications Department in 2009.

13 Comments on “The Secret to Eating Vegetables at Burning Man

  • dancing elf says:

    beef jerky and slim jims provide much more energy and protein, and require less food preparation.

    the cure for a cocaine/ecstasy hangover is moderate sunshine and orange juice, combined with a general level of seclusion (and a steady flow of low impact alcohol).

    mornings are best spent avoiding the girl in camp who stumbles in just at sunrise complaining of being dosed by a spray bottle, who lost her panties (which she’s wearing on her head). she will always kill your gentle buzz.

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  • jrrd says:

    uncouth as it may be, baby food pouches are my plan this year. fruits and veggies without any cleanup or mess yay!

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  • Liz says:

    Any one have any experience with asparagus? I’m thinking trimmed and carefully dried would keep well for a week.

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  • JV says:

    Standard veggie platter fare (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, snap peas, celery), chopped up and placed in a container will last all week. Grab a big tub of hummus and you’re good to go. Delicious and nutritious and no actual cooking required.

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  • harinama says:

    We’ve decided to cook and freeze most of our veggie meals(ie. chili, spaghetti sauce, asian curry, etc) prior to transport to the playa. Fresh fruit & veggies are generally eaten early in the week.

    Also, we put all of our ice in ziplock bags inside the coolers to use for shower, rinse water later. This keeps the veggies firm and tasty.

    Definitely the key is to do as much as you can before you go (ie. precook and/or prechop), because time and the elements often make for difficult cooking conditions.

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  • this is great! i’m wondering what the benefits of chopping are other than to reduce prep time? wont things like onions and mushrooms last longer if they are not pre-chopped?

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  • The benefit of pre-chopping is just to save time on the playa and definitely is not required. I have a hard time getting motivated to cut more than a pineapple out there, so being able to open a baggie and pour out veggies is the key to me actually eating them.

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  • Mars says:

    I’ve had the good fortune of camping with Jenn in the past and let me assure you, her food wizardry is amazing.

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  • dbag says:

    Oh, this is exactly what I needed to see.

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  • Rebecca (Gusto) says:

    Gazpacho (prepared at home) is what I live off of:

    2 cups frozen or fresh Corn: boil or steam to cook, cool to RT
    2 diced Red or Yellow Bell Peppers
    3-4 Carrots: clean and shred
    4 cups Tomato Juice
    2 Cucumbers: peel, de-seed, and cube
    2 ripe Avocados: cubed (or pre-packaged guacamole)
    4 Tbl fresh Lime or Lemon juice
    1 large Garlic clove: minced
    1/4 Red Onion: diced
    1 1/2 tsp. ground Cumin
    1/4 tsp. ground Cayanne Pepper

    Mix and chill, and package in multiple jars to keep in your cooler. Refresshing, satisfying and healthy!

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  • Gaia says:

    Jicama is a fabulous vegetable for desert camping. It is slightly sweet, crunchy, and filled with liquid. Think of it as a cross between a potato and an apple. You need to cut off the tough outer layer and eat the white part. Since it is a root, it can sit out and doesn’t need to be in a cooler before using it. If you don’t use it all, leave it out as it will just dry up on the surface. If you place it in a cooler after cutting into it, it might get slimy.

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  • Dantankerous says:

    I make salads that last almost a week. Romaine lettuce, red onions, avocado, lemon juice (prevents oxidation), cucumbers, red peppers, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. It may not look the greatest near the end but a cold refreshing salad can’t be beat. Make sure you keep it well chilled and it will last almost a week.

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  • Nansea says:

    I love making fresh salsa in quart jars….frozen guac, and Pesto……many kinds.

    remember when making Pesto to add lemon, you can start with, fresh basil, fresh cilantro, fresh spinach, fresh canabis leaves(not the thc leaves) mix basil and spinach together……..olive oil, nuts, parm cheese, lemon, garlic and salt and spices….if you like. Pesto is the best way to get your greens and not have to prepare anything on the playa…enjoy

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