If you’re anything like me, you’ll often find yourself at the grocery store shopping for your family. Many people don’t realize this, but grocery shopping shapes the health of your family. Think about it: good health starts with digestion and grocery shopping determines what we put into our digestive systems.
When purchasing nutritious foods, it can become very overwhelming deciding what the best food options are – especially when it comes to fresh and frozen vegetables. There are a lot of mixed messages about fresh and frozen foods so let me clear the air for you: the nutrient content of fresh and frozen foods is virtually the same. That’s right folks, it’s the same.
Frozen produce retains its nutrients by being flash frozen right after harvesting. This means that frozen produce may even contain more nutrient value than fresh foods that are imported from foreign countries and experience long storage times. After all, as soon as produce is harvested, it begins to lose its nutritional value.
Though the nutritional content of fresh and frozen foods are similar, here are some questions to consider with your food, regardless of whether it is fresh or frozen:
- Is the item in season?
- Where does the item come from (how far did it travel to get on the grocery store shelf)?
- Are there added preservatives or sodium in the item?
- What is the price of the item?
Let’s dive into what these questions mean.
Is it in-season?
Buying produce that’s in-season means that you’ll be purchasing the food at its freshest. This also means that these food items will be at their peak nutritional value, not to mention that it will also be more affordable.
You can find in-season food items at grocery stores, but also at your local farmers markets. I’m a huge fan of farmers markets because you:
- Are supporting local farmers
- Can ask farmers questions about their harvest (i.e. Is it organic? How is it grown?)
- Can often save a lot more money than buying from a chain grocery store
If you have the opportunity to buy in-season local produce – you should. As I mentioned earlier, food begins to lose its nutritional value as soon as it’s picked. Buying local, in-season produce will provide you with the highest nutritional value.
Where does the food come from?
Knowing how far your food has traveled to make it in your refrigerator is important. This will let you determine the source of the food, as well as the environmental and economic impact of your buying choices.
As I mentioned above, fresh local fruits and vegetables are the best for you. They are picked while at their ripest and travel a much shorter distance to your kitchen. This means that you get more nutritious food and are supporting local farmers. If vegetables and fruit come from other countries, they’re usually picked before ripeness and travel long distances before hitting your local grocery store, let alone your kitchen. Food that travels a long way won’t have as high of a nutritional value than food that has travels locally.
Food items that are imported into the country can come from foreign places with vastly different farming regulations. For instance, the amount of pesticides that is used on crops, as well as the wages and fairness to a country’s farmers, can be drastically different.
Price of the item
If you are price conscious of what you purchase, here are some buying tips that will come in handy when deciding to buy fresh or frozen produce:
- Local, in-season produce is typically cheaper to buy
- Frozen produce is often on sale during peak season (i.e. Strawberries in the summer)
- Exotic produce is often more expensive (fresh or frozen)
If you make the decision to buy frozen pre-packaged produce, be aware of added ingredients. Some pre-packaged produce will have added sodium to act as a preservative, or added seasonings to enhance the flavor.
When deciding between fresh and frozen vegetables, you have the knowledge to determine what is best for you and your family. Though the nutritional value is virtually the same, remember to ask yourself questions about your food. Being aware of where your food is coming from and reading the labels is very important and will let you make better decisions for you and your family.