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Wednesdays With Whitney

We all know fresh vegetables are a great option, but they can be cost prohibitive. What other options are good for you?

With almost a foot of fresh snow out my window, on the day before Valentine’s day, I sit to start this blog. It is hard to believe that in a few short months our local farmers markets and grocers will have a bountiful showcase of fresh Maine produce. In the meantime, it is likely challenging to find local, fresh fruit and vegetables. You may also notice how seemingly expensive fresh produce is this time of year (or any time of year). This may have you wondering: what about frozen or canned options? I say go for it!

We often have this assumption that fresh is always best, however that may not always be the case. Have you ever thought about how far your strawberries are traveling to get into your cereal bowl or how long ago those tomatoes were picked from the vine? Nutrient content can be reduced when produce is travelling thousands of miles to a store near you. Due to various temperatures, conditions and time we may lose precious nutrition from our fresh produce. Not to mention, a day after spending four dollars on raspberries you notice they are soggy and have fuzz growing on them. For these reasons and more, frozen vegetables may actual boast more nutrients for your buck.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen right away, this allows nutrient content to stay intact. Frozen produce is often easier on the wallet as well. A huge benefit to buying frozen is that you can store it much longer than fresh. Change in weekly menu? No problem-that bag of broccoli will be just fine for next week. Some people feel a sense of relief not having to worry about their produce going bad before they get a chance to use it. Yay for reducing food waste!

So, what about canned options? Aren’t they loaded with sodium? Yes, they can be. However, you may be surprised to find a growing number of low- and no- sodium and no-salt-added options. Some canned products have always been low in sodium. Salt is not used as a preservative (gasp!), the canning process does the preserving on its own. As we know, salt sure is tasty and is mainly used for flavor and sometimes texture. Canned produce, like frozen, gives you more flexibility on timeline for use and can reduce food waste while reducing cost.

While fresh produce is often a great option, canned and frozen are excellent as well. Take into consideration your family’s needs. And remember a vegetable is a vegetable is a vegetable no matter if it is fresh, frozen or canned. Big picture-the goal is to include fruits and vegetables with most meals and snacks, whether it is a smoothie with frozen berries, a side of corn and beans from a can or a fresh salad.

With health in mind:

  • Look for good deals on seasonal, fresh produce

  • Buy JUST the frozen produce-steer clear of added sauces and cheeses

  • When buying canned products look for low- or no- sodium, drain and give them a rinse before using

  • Best options for fruit cups would be “in own juices” or water, we don’t need the heavy syrups

  • Think about and explore options for freezing and canning at home

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