According to a new report published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture by researchers at UC Davis, canned and frozen produce may have as many, if not more, nutrients than fresh produce. How can this be?
This extremely misleading announcement draws on the fact that, by the time that cucumber or lettuce or broccoli makes it into your hands at the supermarket, fruits and vegetables often sit on trucks and in shelves for days after they were picked. Vitamin and other nutrient levels can drop dramatically in that brief interval, whereas the process of canning and freezing may better preserve these nutrients in the long-run.
The report, and other similar ones published over the years, may be intended to inspire more widespread acceptance of canned and frozen produce, and not to say that we should do away with fresh produce altogether. Obviously for those who can find farmer’s markets or other local sources of fresh-picked fruits and veggies, canned and frozen varieties will pale in comparison. The unfortunate reality, however, is that too many communities in this country have little to no access to fresh foods. If you’ve ever heard the term “food desert” then you know what we mean. Broader reform in that regard is certainly necessary, and if canned vegetables provide any temporary palliative then we should be no means shun them.
Food, of course, is a human right. And there are many reasons why fresh produce is essential to overall health and happiness. Here are 10 of our favorite reasons to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, even if canned produce can provide the same nutrients:
- More opportunities for creative cooking. Did you know beets come attached to beautiful, iron-rich greens that can be sauteed and served alongside the roots?
- Shopping at the farmer’s market is super fun. Fruits, vegetables, sprouts, cheeses, and breads of every variety! Fresh eggs! Organic meat! Is that home-brewed kombucha?
- Have a more tactile experience with your food. There’s something wholly unromantic about ripping the top off a can of green beans… Handling roots, leaves, and washing dirt off is all part of the sensual process of food preparation.
- You can compost the stems and excess bits, make soil, and then grow your own produce on your porch, windowsill, or garden!
- No amount of re-hydrating and re-constituting can recover the crispy crunch so enjoyable about fresh veggies that gets lost in the freezer.
- The metallic aftertaste of a can? No thanks.
- No risk of botulism and other bacteria often carried in canned and preserved foods.
- If you have extra oranges, berries, or whatnot, you can always pass them out to neighbors and give them as little tokens to people who visit your abode. Can’t quite do the same with a bag of frozen peas…
- Eating fresh produce is what people have been doing for centuries. Shouldn’t that count for something?
- The golden rule in food consumption: Limit the number of steps it takes for your food to get from the farm to your kitchen as a way of ensuring freshness and healthiness.
What are your reasons for eating fresh produce? Or for eating canned or frozen produce, for that matter?