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Experience Earth Day with USDA

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches 2,175 miles from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. Hikers who choose to explore the entire stretch will go through 14 states and on eight national forests. (U.S. Forest Service)

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches 2,175 miles from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. Hikers who choose to explore the entire stretch will go through 14 states and on eight national forests. (U.S. Forest Service)

Earth Day is a reminder that some of our best moments can be spent in the great outdoors.

Getting outside is one of the best ways to feel re-invigorated, whether on a short hike to the Crags Trail on Pike National Forest or on a longer exploration of the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail, which winds through 14 states and across eight national forests.

The range of outdoor activities run the gamut from hiking, camping, boating, bird watching, and experiencing wildlife to photographing nature, hunting and fishing.

However long you want to spend outdoors, the U.S. Forest Service and the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion offer a few ideas to help you stay healthy while enjoying activities of your choice.

Choose MyPlate Outdoors

Going on a day trip to any of our 154 national forests or 20 national grasslands? Pack a picnic lunch, some snacks, and drinks to keep everyone hydrated and satisfied.

Plan to have plenty of water with you and ready-to-eat foods such as mini-carrots, oranges, 100 percent whole wheat bread, and a container of peanut butter. Toss unsalted nuts and dried cranberries in small containers for easy grab-and-go snacks.

Visiting national forests and lands also provide an opportunity to experience foods readily available from local farmers markets. Use the USDA National Farmer Market Locator Directory to find a market near you. (USDA Flickr Image)

Visiting national forests and lands also provide an opportunity to experience foods readily available from local farmers markets. Use the USDA National Farmer Market Locator Directory to find a market near you. (USDA Flickr Image)

Planning meals and snacks for several days of outdoor activity may require a little more thought. Consider ahead of time which foods to take, ways to keep your food safe, and how to prepare easy meals. Rely on paper plates and include just a few cooking tools like a skillet or small pot for meats or soups.

Mix quick-cooking oats with low-fat dry milk powder, walnuts, and raisins for a fast breakfast. Chop veggies like onions and peppers in advance to use when cooking over the campfire.  Bring cans of low-sodium soup or tuna fish that you can quickly re-heat or mix with vegetables for lunch or dinner.

Also, think about cooking local foods. Enjoying nature means appreciating and eating what’s available to you. If you’re near the ocean, find a place to buy fresh fish. Visit a local farmers market to find fresh veggies, eggs, meat, or local cheeses.

Savor your outdoor experience. Eating outside near a lake or under the stars is a special event that you will want to repeat. With just a little planning you can figure out how to have healthy, delicious meals that make it easy to get away and enjoy your public lands.

We have one request: Please abide by the Leave No Trace seven principles of outdoor ethics so the beauty you see when you are there will be there when you return.

Unplug and take your kids outside, where they can view though world though a different lens - away from televisions, cell phones and other electronic gadgets. Grab a pair of binoculars and see how many different species of birds they can find. (U.S. Forest Service)

Unplug and take your kids outside, where they can view though world though a different lens - away from televisions, cell phones and other electronic gadgets. Grab a pair of binoculars and see how many different species of birds they can find. (U.S. Forest Service)

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