Mom’s Health Corner:
Canned, Fresh, Frozen, and Organic
Pros & Cons
When to Buy
Pros: Some of the obvious benefits of buying canned fruit and vegetables are convenience and price. They have a long shelf-life so this makes stocking up and planning meals much easier. Also, they are usually harvested at the peak of their ripeness so they are a great option for off-season recipes.
Cons: Canning requires a lot of salt and/or preservatives. Sometimes canned fruit is loaded with sugars and syrups as well. Produce tends to lose some of its nutritional value in the canning and storage process. You also increase your risk of BPA exposure from the cans.
Best time to buy? Cold, winter months or as a last option purchase
Pros: Produce is usually frozen at the peak of ripeness so you are still getting a ton of vitamins and minerals. If you plan on refrigerating the produce – studies show FROZEN is a better option. Refrigerated produce loses its nutritional value over time whereas frozen produce locks in and preserves the antioxidants and vitamins. There are NO additives or preservatives!
One report showed that broccoli lost its nutritional value by 50% after being refrigerated for a week. It dipped by only 10% when frozen for an entire year. (ABCNEWS)
Cons: Many times frozen produce is still shipped from far away which is a negative for the environment. Additionally, frozen produce in microwaveable, steamable plastic bags might not be your best option!
Best time to buy? When your fresh options are not in season. When you plan on storing the produce over a longer period of time.
Pros: Buying fresh produce is your best option. Fresh fruits and vegetables are picked at PERFECTION and offer the highest nutritional content! BONUS: Buying seasonal produce lessens your chances of exposure to chemical sprays. You want to make sure that you are purchasing produce that is in-season. Produce are usually CHEAPER to buy at the store when they are in season – EX: Avocados cost $5 a piece in December in comparison to 3 for $5 in August. See our seasonal list below!
Cons: Grocery stores offer convenience. Tomatoes don’t grow in New Jersey in the dead of winter. These vegetables were transported several thousand miles for your convenience. Not only does this mean burning tons of fuel, but it also means that non-seasonal produce have to be picked prior to ripeness for transportation purposes and then sprayed. Many times these fruits and vegetables lack the robust taste that you would find if you bought them during their proper season.
Best time to buy? Buying seasonal & locally grown fresh produce is your best option.
Pros: Buying locally grown, organic produce supports farmers and the environment. Usually, you can get more bang for your buck if you choose to buy organic produce that is IN-season from local farms. Typically, they are priced fairly and better for your overall HEALTH!
Cons: Organic is ALWAYS the best option, but realistically can cost you an ARM and a LEG. Perhaps, organic isn’t needed for ALL produce. If you have to watch your spending – it is best to splurge on organic produce where you are also eating the skin. For example, you don’t eat the peel of an organic banana – but you would eat the skin of a strawberry, blueberry, and grape.
Every year the EWG releases a list of the DIRTY DOZEN to ALWAYS buy organically (Here is your 2017 list):
- Sweet Bell Peppers
Check out this great link from the USDA that gives you a COMPREHENSIVE LIST of seasonal produce as well as NUTRITIONAL FACTS!