Is a fresh veggie the same as a frozen veggie? Does the trip to the farmer’s market really make all the difference? These are questions that many a health advocate has asked themselves at least once. While it is convenient to have a freezer full of veggies that you know won’t go bad, the question remains whether those frozen vegetables are really going to give you the same nutrient boost as a freshly picked equivalent.
The Fresh or Frozen Debate
It doesn’t take a nutrition expert to know that fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the healthiest foods that you can get your hands on. Fresh produce, whether from the farmer’s stand or picked off the tree by your very own hands, offer a vibrancy in taste and firmness of texture that can’t be matched by any frozen product.
But does opting for a frozen variety in the name of convenience take away from the nutritional value of your favorite veggies? Or does freezing the fruits and vegetables help them maintain that nutritional punch until they are defrosted in your kitchen?
Here is the bottom line:
- Fresh: Fruits that are sold fresh are typically picked before they are in their prime, meaning that they don’t have the chance to develop the maximum range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that they would otherwise have. The transit from farm to table can take anywhere between three days to two weeks, and to keep those veggies fresh a series of chemicals are often used. Once they actually hit the grocer’s shelf, they will likely be there for at least three days before going home to your kitchen, where you may have them for up to a week before they actually start to spoil.
- Frozen: Fruits and veggies that are going to be frozen can spend a bit more time in the sun, because they don’t face the same risk of spoiling as the fresh variety. In fact, the time between when a vegetable is picked and when it is frozen may just be a couple of hours. Of course, how long it is before that vegetable is defrosted is another story. Frozen vegetables may stay that way for up to a year before making it to your table.
In both of the above scenarios nutrients are lost. For fresh fruits and vegetables it is a story of being picked too early and being in transit too long for the nutrient value to be at its best. For the frozen variety, the freezing and defrosting process just can’t preserve the same nutritional punch. So then, what is your best option? Keep an eye out for local produce stands or farmer’s markets. This gives you the option to buy directly from the grower, increasing the chances that your fruit or vegetable was picked recently, and reducing the risk of it being overly drained of nutritional value before reaching your plate. If you’ve never been to a farmer’s market before, the Shelby Farmer’s Market on Van Dyke Avenue is a good place to start.