Frozen vs fresh- which is healthier and is fresh really fresh?
So is locally bought produce more nutritious?
The nutritional content of fresh produce will depend on the quality of a lengthy list of decisions taken and practices used throughout the growing process and distribution system, whether on a local or global scale. By the time your fresh fruit and vegetables arrive in the cooler-box of your fridge, whether from a stall in your local farmers market or from a supermarket aisle, these are main factors that will determine just how fresh and nutritious your produce is.
Did you know that..
- for example fruit and vegetables sold in supermarkets are chosen for their yield, speed of growth and susceptibility to bruising and surviving mechanical processes, but not for their nutritional content?
- vegetables that are grown with organic composts offering a steady and slow uptake of nutrients into the plant, create vegetables of higher nutritional value. Non-organic supermarket varieties of fruit and vegetables have usually been given synthetic fertilisers, and so have less nutritional content?
- when a fruit or vegetable is ready for picking, varies from one type to another. Fruits such as tomatoes, peaches, nectarines, apples, melons and apricots are able to ripen after becoming detached from the main plant. Crops like citrus and peppers reach commercial maturity only when still on the plant. So for long distance transport this produce is picked early in order to minimise bruising and to lengthen shelf life. Early harvesting means less nutritional value . The total vitamin C content in tomatoes, red peppers, peaches, papayas and apricots were found to be much higher in the fruits allowed to ripen fully on the plant, than if they were not?
- processing of vegetables, cut and chopped for our convenience increasingly found on our supermarket shelves while obviously useful, causes damage to the tissues of the vegetable which makes them more susceptible to spoilage and subsequent nutrient loss?
- even when production standards are strictly adhered to, fruit and vegetables transported over long distances will not match the nutritional values of local farmers markets?
- 80% of shoppers questioned in the UK believed their supermarket produce to be less than 4 days old, when in fact the average is 9 days-Making it conceivable that your vegetable is over 2 weeks old before you cook and eat it- what nutritional benefit is there left?
Frozen vs fresh: so if fresh isn’t fresh, is frozen better?
Frozen vegetables and fruits are picked at peak ripeness on the plant and frozen close to the point of harvest, these fast methods of harvest to freeze minimise the loss of nutrients and in particular vitamin C which is found to be consistently higher in frozen vegetables than supermarket fresh. However when compared to farmers market produce that is eaten quickly after purchase, the nutritional difference re . frozen vs fresh might be less marked. You might wish to consider the horrendous carbon cost of freezing, and then storing these fruit and vegetables- a cost the frozen industry has never had to pay? Whether we buy vegetables from the fresh produce aisle or the freezer aisle, the nutritional and environmental costs are worth weighing up and considering carefully.
Natural Mothers tips are:
- to avoid the supermarket in favour of your local market whose farmers will favour flavour over yield and will be offering their produce within 24 hours of picking with less mechanical intrusion and handling in the process. There is less cost to the environment and it’s better for your health
- -but if you are unable to consume your fresh vegetables very soon after purchase and you want to get optimum nutritional benefit from your food, then buying them frozen has to be an option.
- to buy fresh in-season vegetables only, so shorter transport distances are assured.
- to check this post: 5 Winter Superfoods you Shouldn’t go Without
- -and this: Top 10 Superfoods-for Late Summer
- to buy out-of-season fruit and produce from the frozen aisle, this ensures your family’s diet benefits from a wider selection of foods and the additional nutritional advantages they bring. After all, who wants to live exclusively on root vegetables all winter?
- to buy well within sell-by date on frozen foods.
- to avoid processed cut and chopped frozen foods
- to freeze fruits for no longer than 8 months
- to freeze vegetables for no longer than 12 months
What are your thoughts on the frozen vs fresh debate and armed with this information, what changes will you be making?
Sources: Harvard Medical School| Centre for Food Innovation- Sheffield Hallam University, UK X6YX4B2P7EDJ
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About the Author (Author Profile)
Rebecca Watkins worked as a professional photo journalist and travelled the world with her husband John, before settling down as a stay at home mother to their three daughters. They have recently moved back from the French Alps to an old cottage in Devon, England. Rebecca’s days are filled with visits to the beach, animated discussions and in the best moments, happiness and creativity in her family home of five. The other moments are filled with craziness and chaos and she loves those too.