Food Packaging An Important Ally In The Preservation of Vegetables
One of the boons to our busy lifestyle has been the advent of frozen vegetables and to a lesser extent, fruit. At the end of a hectic day, the sheer convenience of taking a packet of frozen vegetables from the freezer and having it on the table ready to eat in minutes, has seen frozen become the vegetable of choice for busy people. Food manufacturers have devised new products such as stir fry vegetables with sauce, to cater to this market. This is not to say that fresh vegetables and fruit have been abandoned totally. Many people prefer fresh, and only use the frozen products intermittently, believing that there is something unnatural about frozen food.
Are there any real differences between the fresh or frozen product, and which one is the best? In the case of fresh vegetables, the first question should be “just how fresh are fresh vegetables?” These days, with modern food packaging and cold storage, most fresh vegetables are kept between 3 and 7 days before they end up on the supermarket shelves. The longer the time between picking and consumption, the more nutrients are lost.
The Case For Frozen Vegetables
Vegetables intended for freezing are picked and frozen almost immediately after harvesting. This locks in their nutrients preventing the further loss that happens to fresh vegetables. While some nutrients are lost during blanching, this is no worse than the losses that occur during cooking. Busy people should not feel they are short-changing their families by using frozen produce in preference to fresh. Frozen vegetables are available all year long, their nutritional value is as sound as fresh varieties, they cook more quickly, and are easy to prepare.
The Value of Quality Packaging
These days, a lot of care is now given to the packaging of both fresh and frozen vegetables. Frozen produce is sold in plastic packaging which sits fairly flat in freezer compartments, saving space. The packaging also displays all the required labelling as well as directions for preparation, and often one or two recipes. It reseals easily, keeping the contents in the freezer for re-use.
Fresh vegetables are also given the royal treatment. Gone are the days when produce was packed loosely in a box and jostled around in transit, often arriving bruised and battered. Packaging suppliers provide layers of shock absorbing packaging in cardboard boxes that are often good enough to use as display items where the produce is literally sold straight out of the box.
While people will make their own choices about fresh vs frozen, a common-sense approach is to keep some of both on hand so that each meal has a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit in season, and frozen items for convenience. Both are nutritionally sound choices.