Frozen or Fresh? Tips for Buying Produce
“Fresh is best” might be a term you’ve heard before, but is that really always true? When it comes to buying produce, there are a few things to consider.
- Season – Buying produce that’s in season is a good way to ensure that it has more nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are harvested when they are at peak ripeness, and if they grow in your area, they won’t have to travel very far before they get to you. The issue comes when things that are not in season have to travel long distances. Fruits and vegetables begin to gradually lose nutrients once picked, and if it takes a few days to ship to the grocery store, then sits in your fridge for another few days, you may not be getting all the nutrition you expect. In that case, frozen produce is a smarter choice nutritionally, as they are picked at peak ripeness, then flash-frozen for nutrient and flavor preservation.
- Time and resources – If you’re still developing your cooking skills, are short on time, worry about the cost of buying fresh produce all the time, or just prefer the convenience, frozen is a great option. Popping some frozen fruit into a smoothie or a bag of frozen vegetables into the microwave sometimes makes more sense than making a full fruit salad or roasting a full pan of vegetables.
- Personal tastes – Don’t like mushy, steamed broccoli? Try buying fresh broccoli and roasting it in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper (or herb blends if you’re watching your sodium intake). Sometimes all you need is a different preparation method to find out you actually do like a certain food.
- Supporting local – Farmer’s markets are a great way to support your local economy while also getting the freshest selection in your area. In the summer and fall, these are great options. However, in the dead of winter, frozen produce might make more sense nutritionally, given the travel time that most things would require.
Remember, at the end of the day, the best fruits and vegetables to choose are the ones you’ll actually eat and enjoy. Both fresh and frozen produce options provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that are beneficial to our health. There’s no “wrong” way to eat your veggies!