Winter months are fast approaching. This means our access to quality fresh produce is becoming more and more limited. During the late spring and summer and even the early fall it is very easy to purchase fresh local produce in the supermarket and at local farmers’ markets. This is because there is a variety of fruits and vegetables in season in our area during these warmer months. As such, most supermarkets opt to stock frozen food.
The disadvantages of fresh foods during off-season
As the frost begins to hit the fields our fresh options dwindle and the costs begins to soar. The farther a fruit or vegetable needs to travel from the field to our kitchen the more expensive it becomes. As well, the less nutritious it is. Fresh fruits or vegetables that need to travel long distances tend to be picked before they are fully ripe so they do not go bad on their long journey. When produce is picked before it is fully ripe it is not able to meet its full nutrient potential. It is therefore not as nutritious as fruits and vegetables that are allowed to ripen fully prior to picking. More so, they tend not to taste as yummy as their just picked counterparts.
Why frozen foods might be better
On the other hand, frozen fruits and vegetables that are picked at the peak of ripeness and are then frozen lock in the freshness and vital nutrients. For these reasons, it is probably best for you to buy frozen during the colder months. Additionally, frozen fruits and vegetables can save you quite a bit of money. This is because they tend to be less expensive and last much longer than fresh, locally out of season produce will.
Things to look for when buying frozen foods
While buying frozen fruits and vegetables can be a great option, there are some things that you want to look for .
First, make sure you are buying options without added fat, salt or sugars. Some frozen vegetables might be coated in high calorie, salty sauces. They may also be mixed with high carbohydrate foods such as noodles or rice. Frozen fruit, like canned fruit, can often be packed with added sugars. Be sure to carefully read the ingredient list. If you see any ingredients other than the fruit or vegetable you intend to buy, you may want to reconsider that option.
Second, be sure to check the label for the serving size. Most food packages contain more than one serving. Therefore, be sure to read what one serving size is and measure out your portion. If you need help reading food labels do not hesitate to ask one of our dietitians or nutritionists to help you.
The bottom line is that, when food is in season and grown locally, buy fresh. But when it needs to travel across the country to get to your kitchen, buy frozen.