Monday Moaning

This is not so much a ‘Moan’ as something to think about even though it may go against the grain.

We have it drilled into us that fresh produce is the best, and nothing else will suffice.

But is it?

I read this article on NerdSteak last week, and it set me to thinking.

Reblogged.

Frozen Foods Can Be Fresher Than Fresh…

Some times you gotta be fresh…and other times, frozen may be fresher than fresh.  Some studies have shown that frozen fruits and vegetables can contain higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants compared to the fresh varieties from stores or farmers markets.

This is due to the fact that many frozen fruits and vegetables are processed and frozen right at the source, from minutes to hours after being picked or harvested during their peak ripeness.  On the other hand, fresh produce maybe be held for days, weeks, or even months before being sold to consumers, then held at the home for even more time before being used. When these products are held at ambient temperatures or even refrigerated, they slowly and naturally lose some of their healthy properties over time.  When product is frozen, it inhibits the loss of these volatile compounds, and provides more health benefits.  Some fresh produce is also picked before being fully ripened to handle the delay in consumption, which reduces the overall health advantages even more.

Supermarkets and even farmers markets have a list of ways to make their foods look fresh, such as water misting and trimming.  While these practices are normal, the overall health profile of these foods can often time be less than the frozen counterparts. There are even instances that refrigeration will INCREASE degradation of healthy compounds in certain food items, specifically soft fruits.  It is still recommended that foods picked right from the ground are the best, but frozen can be just as good of an option.

And as a side note, if you do want to cook your fruits and vegetables while keeping the most nutritional value in the products, steaming is the optimal way to insure the least about of benefit loss.  This is of course second to eating them raw.

Opinion:

This post ticked off a long lost story.

Millions of years ago, when I had hair and didn’t have a beer pot, wasn’t married and my kids were still just a distant gleam in my eyes, I worked in a Bird’s Eye factory. I was the night shift supervisor, which is a fancy title for anyone stupid enough to do permanent night shift.

We processed peas, principally, then French beans, asparagus and broccoli.

Take the peas for example. Harvested by machine and transported in big bins direct to the factory where they were processed within an hour of harvesting.

FrozenPeasOur best peas, export grade, were  the aim. When the peas arrived we put samples through a ‘tender-o-meter’ to measure their hardness. Every half hour delay, the peas became harder, so reduced the grade, white, green, then orange which was considered ‘commercial grade’. White and green being for domestic sales. The peas were washed, cooked and inspected in twenty minutes, before going through the blast freezer and being snap frozen. and bagged in bulk for later domestic packaging.

So the frozen peas you buy in the supermarket were in the same condition as they were two hours from harvesting.

Now when I see fresh peas in the supermarket, I wonder how long since they were picked, one day, two days, more? How long did they stay in the field before being transported? How long between the grower and the market? How long between the market and the supermarket? How long in the supermarket before they went on display in the vege section?

The above post rings true.

In some cases, frozen can be better.

Of course, if you have peas in the garden, picked and within minutes in the pot is always best.

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16 responses to this post.

  1. Valid post, and my parents used to swear by birds eye petits pois! But one of the reasons for me growing veg is so that I can pick it fresh and know that it is pesticide free. I live in an agricultural area and sometimes get given veg from the fields by neighbours and with the exception of shipped in fruit, pretty much most of it is grown locally so doesn´t involve huge trips in fridgey trucks. I´m not a fan of frozen veg though. Plus it comes in plastic bags and involves energy consumption.

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    • My father always had a grand vege garden, and during my marriage I did too. It used to infuriate me that my ex would run across the road to buy frozen vege, when we had the same thing in the garden. If you live in an agricultural area where farmer’s market comes directly with little transport worries, then of course this doesn’t apply; but city dwellers in general need to think about this. The plastic bags are irksome, I agree.

      AV

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  2. I have long been an advocate for frozen foods, especially veg because I’ve always believed it to be fresher, I even get frozen diced onions which sounds lazy but in fact I was tired of buying so called fresh onions, only to have them go off after a few days, that’s when I started to question just how long they’d been hanging around in chiller rooms before being presented as ‘fresh’. I would love to be a good enough gardener to grow my own and pick them fresh, but after years of weed cultivation I have accepted that is not an option, so frozen it is!

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    • >Shana, I’ve never seen frozen onions before… But you are right, some fresh produce goes off quickly, which make you wonder how long it was in transit. I would love to have the ground in which to be a good gardener again.

      AV

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      • Well here is a little confession, for 12 hours only I worked in an onion factory processing frozen onions, the worst 12 hours of my life, and for months after, every time I had a bath, I stunk of onions! I’ve got plenty of garden space to grow veg, but sadly my garden is part of a communal plot, and I could see most of the veg disappearing in overnight raids!!

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  3. I’m no good in the garden, so I get my vegs from the local CSA farm. There is usually quite a bounty, I share some with friends, and freeze the rest: wash, shred/chop, stick in plastic bags re-used from something else. The limit is only the volume of my freezer. Soon the farm will invite its members to glean what is left before it closes for the winter: that bounty will not fit in my freezer, but contains a lot of long-storage root vegetables that can go into my shed until the hard freeze comes – or until we eat it, whichever comes first!

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  4. Posted by smallftprints on November 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    I pretty much agree with what everyone has said. If people don’t have access to fresh (as in picked that morning) produce and/or aren’t able to preserve fresh produce, then I think frozen is the next best. Since “frozen” includes packaging, I would suggest buying it in the largest quantities possible … and avoid those varieties that come with seasoning or a sauce … they aren’t as healthy and may include preservatives, etc. If at all possible, though, I’d love to see people move towards fresh, local produce which they preserve.

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  5. I grew up with either fresh or frozen, no store-bought canned vegetables were ever purchased. I am trying to grow more of my own or buy from the farmer’s markets, but when i need to supplement from the store I usually buy frozen as I believe the points you made are true.

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  6. Great post! I loved reading about your first-hand experience at the Birds Eye factory. I tend to stay away from frozen vegetables unless necessary (i.e. frozen spinach), but I might have to reconsider. At least during the summer we can buy stuff at the farmer’s market and it will be fresher than the grocery store.

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  7. I agree, ideal situation is cook straight out of the ground or from the plant.

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