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.
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.
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.
Our 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.