It is the beginning of National Nutrition Month, and the focus on health eating reflects the new MyPlate from the USDA.
For sure, the nutrition experts will agree that filling half of one’s plate with fruits and vegetables seems like a no-brainer. The challenge for many people is if it’s not fresh and organic, should you eat it?
Research conducted by UC Davis, published in the Journal of Science and Agriculture found there may be more loss of nutrients in fresh produce, whereas freezing and canning may preserve nutrient value.
Waste Not Want Not
Often consumers complain that fresh produce can be too expensive, and in some instances, it may be – especially when purchasing a fruit or vegetable that is not in season in one’s region. However, it becomes costly when it merely rots in the crisper drawer and ends up in the garbage. Packed produce also ensures 100 percent edible parts of the plants – no waste.
“It is much easier to get people to fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables using canned or frozen produce for many reasons: cost, less plant waste, consistency of taste, already cut, and ease of cooking,” according to Elizabeth Pivonka, a registered dietitian and president of the Produce for Better Health Foundation.
Pivonka’s viewpoint is that people need to eat more fruits and vegetables – and if eating frozen or canned fruits and vegetables is an easier fit for their lifestyle, they should go for it.
Frozen and Canned
Clarence Birdseye is known as the founder of frozen food – and he learned from watching Eskimos fast freeze, which reduced damage to cell wall structures. While you might think of the brand for frozen vegetables, Clarence really got started freezing fish. The nice aspect of frozen foods is that they are often frozen within hours of being picked, near the fields where they are grown.
Unlike fresh produce, the calories and nutrition facts panel are on the bags, boxes or cans, for the consumer to read. Don’t forget explicit cooking instructions. Winter isn’t the only time to stock up on canned or frozen produce.