Nepali food was one of the highlights of my trek; in my opinion it is more delicious and healthier than American food. Everywhere in Nepal is practiced non-monoculture, sustainable, organic farming, as far as I know. I never heard of pesticides or chemical fertilizer being used. In the United States, the movement for locally grown food seems left-wing, expensive, and a little effete, but in Nepal it is the way things are everywhere. The food in restaurants is often grown in a plot next to the lodge.

Fresh vegetables are served in all the restaurants on the Annapurna circuit twelve months of the year. Even at high elevations in the winter, there is still garlic and cabbage. In the high lodges between Manang and Muktinath, fresh Seabuckthorn juice, made from a local berry, is served. At slightly lower elevations practically any vegetable you can imagine is used in soups, omelettes, rice or macaroni dishes: tomatoes (tree or vine grown), onions, green onions, garlic, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, pumpkin, potatoes, daikon radish, mustard (I saw a lot of mustard fields with yellow flowers). Sometimes Lal would inform me that some greens, tuber, or mushrooms in my dish were picked wild in the jungle. At Ngadi, nettle soup was on the menu, but I did not see it again.

At lower elevations, Besi Sahar on the east leg and Tatopani on the west, fresh oranges were everywhere. At slightly higher elevations there were apples and bananas available.

The menus on the Annapurna Circuit are standardized by the tourism board, with some variation in prices and items. But the restaurants are not like franchises of a chain; “vege” on a menu means whatever vegetables are locally available.

Eggs were always available, and chicken usually. Sometimes beef, mutton, goat, buffalo, or yak meat. One of the only canned food ingredients used is tuna.

Rice, wheat, corn, oats, lentils, chickpeas are widely available. I became practically addicted to rakshi, a locally brewed alcoholic beverage made from fermented millet, which seems to be reserved for the drink. It reminds me of smooth sake. My guide trusts the purity of rakshi bought in the lodges or from a farmer anywhere along the circuit, but advises against buying it in Kathmandu, where you don’t know what has been added to it.

I suspect the local beer brands of not having as much alcohol as on the label. The coffee likewise doesn’t seem to have much caffeine, although it has a pleasant enough taste.

I did try to follow the advice of all the guide books, not to drink untreated water or eat raw unpeeled fruit or veges anywhere in Nepal.