Is frozen better than fresh?
Personal Trainer and Vegetable Advocate
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you that vegetables are bad for you, too. Everyone knows that vegetables are not only good for you, they are the origin of most medicines. That’s why there are no billion-dollar marketing campaigns to sell you vegetables — you can’t patent them. Big agriculture companies are trying to patent “franken-veggies,” but the real stuff is truly medicinal.
I have never seen an unhealthy person who eats a plant-based diet. Actually, I have never met a person face to face who eats nothing but vegetables. Personally, I think that we can survive and thrive on many different diets. For example, Inuit people live on fat, meat, a few herbs and that’s it. They have zero heart disease or high cholesterol. That’s partially because the “meat-fat-cholesterol is unhealthy charade” is just that. I think extreme diets, no matter what they are, are rarely sustainable for opportunistic omnivores like ourselves.
However, there is little argument that fresh veggies are necessary to maintain health for just about all humans. You must eat them to stay healthy.
Consider that fresh veggies may not be as good as you think. Don’t freak. You haven’t been throwing away expensive fresh veggies that go bad in your fridge for no reason.
When vegetables are in season, grown locally and not sprayed with chemicals, they’re as healthy for you as can be. When they are picked too early and shipped from half-way around the world, not so much. Frozen vegetables are a different story.
I learned to process and store food at an early age. Like many of us, I helped my parents and grandparents can and freeze wild foods. We tried to freeze as much as we could because it was always easier than canning. Recently I wondered what freezing does to food quality and was delighted to find that it works well. So well that frozen veggies and fruits are better quality than most of their fresh counterparts.
I recently read a great article about frozen foods written by one of my favorite writers, Michael Shank. He has researched the science behind frozen whole food nutritional value versus fresh foods. When tested, frozen vegetable quality supports the claims that they may be the next best thing to growing it yourself. Frozen veggies retain more of their nutritional value. They require much less hidden chemicals and processing than the fake-fresh stuff at the grocery store. This is not headline news obviously, but the whole fresh vegetable craze is quite deceiving.
Many fresh fruits and veggies at the supermarket are no healthier than canned veggies in my opinion. Nonlocal fresh veggies offer a significant decrease in nutritional value because they are picked too early, exposed to heat, light, dark, carbon monoxide, parasites, wax coating, 1-methylcyclopropene, fungicides and spray paint. Don’t worry, it’s all been deemed “safe for human consumption” by your government.
Don’t blame the supermarket. You asked for these products, and you’ll pay high prices for fresh produce. Supermarkets only try to supply the demand. You won’t buy produce that’s wilted and bruised, so they do everything they can to make it look as appealing as possible. When you have unrealistic expectations, you get unrealistic results. My dad used to call this “delusions of grandeur.”
I know that perhaps you’re too busy making up for hyper-inflation to grow and store your own fresh produce. Maybe you’re too involved with your “career” to take the time to feed your family wholesome foods. We used to spend almost all of our time growing, storing and cooking food. Now we are much more advanced than that. Now we drive a car to a super-rewarding job and pop some junk out of the microwave and call it food. Nothing that’s any good is convenient, quick or easy. There is always a price to pay.
If you want fresh wholesome food, you have to grow it yourself and co-op. Why not take some time to teach your kid to put down the i-Pad for a second and learn to how grow food — since you can’t eat an iPad. Co-ops are a great way to get local produce because you can actually talk to the farmer who grew it.
At the supermarket, stick to frozen, organic fruits and veggies for your best overall value. Better food choices will change demand and make better foods more available. This reduces the market share for junk foods and improves your quality of life.
Steve Wells is a personal trainer and co-owner of Midland Fitness. His column appears on Tuesdays.
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Corby Anderson was named executive director for Carbondale-based community radio station KDNK in August.