Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Washington Post Features

July 24, 2012

Why fresh food is better than frozen (mostly)

My kids and I recently had 30 minutes to undertake a week's worth of grocery shopping before we had to be at baseball practice. This is not unusual. As we ran through the grocery store, each flying in a different direction to gather items on the list, my boys asked me an excellent question. They asked me why I don't buy frozen meals.

We happened to be at Trader Joe's, a store full of frozen items that are labeled organic and appear to be very healthy. They reasoned that if I tossed seven frozen meals in the cart I'd be almost done shopping for the week. Shopping would have taken mere minutes instead of the hour it usually takes to find all the ingredients, not to mention the time spent unloading the groceries and cooking the meals.

My boys asked a fair question, and one I am guessing most parents have asked themselves when they feel frazzled getting dinner on the table.

Here is my simple answer.

A fresh meal generally supplies more . . .

  • Nutrients. Freezing has been shown to decrease the nutrient value of a meal. Frozen meals also generally provide small quantities of vegetables and fruits. Because vegetables and fruits provide many of the vitamins and minerals that are essential to our health, we want to guarantee we consume enough of them.
  • Hydration. Fresh fruits and vegetables have a higher water content and therefore offer natural hydration that is important for cellular health.
  • Healthful fats. There is a great disparity in the health value of various oils and fats. I am in control of which oils and fats are in a meal when I prepare it myself.
  • Enzymes. Enzymes help with digestion and nutrient absorption by breaking down the food into absorbable parts that our bodies can use. Enzymes have to be removed from fresh food for it to have a shelf life. It is believed that freezing lowers enzyme activity.

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