Is fresh and organic food best?
There is no doubt that fresh food is best from a nutritional point of view and that organic food is great for its lack of pesticides
Newly dug potatoes or freshly picked peas, taken straight from the garden to the kitchen, have more nutrients than either canned or frozen alternatives - not to mention being incomparably better in taste and texture. Not everyone has the luxury of growing and eating their own produce, however, and “fresh” produce on supermarket shelves may have been picked and kept in cold storage for a considerable time. Then, the distinction between “fresh” and canned or frozen becomes less clear-cut.
Fresh, frozen, or canned?
- When buying fruits and vegetables, choose locally grown produce whenever possible, as this is likely to be almost as fresh as home-grown varieties.
- In supermarkets, if no locally grown produce is available, buy fruits and vegetables in season, as they are least likely to have been in lengthy storage.
- Frozen fruits and vegetables are as nutritious as fresh varieties, if they were frozen immediately after picking.
- When choosing pre-packaged foods, check the contents on the food label. It may include a long list of undesirable ingredients including additives, sugar, sodium, and oil (see How Food is Preserved).
- Choose fresh meat, preferably low-fat varieties such as poultry breast and lean beef, instead of processed meats such as sausages and burgers, which are likely to contain high levels of saturated fat, salt, and additives.
- Buy freshly baked wholemeal bread rather than sliced, packaged varieties, which often contain additives that give them a prolonged shelf life.
Tips on choosing organic foods
- Organic fruits and vegetables are not treated with preservatives; therefore, you should always choose the freshest produce available. Ask your greengrocer on which day new produce is delivered, so you can buy it the day it arrives. Choose locally grown produce whenever possible. Select fruits and vegetables with care, avoiding those with blemishes or insect holes.
- Read labels carefully: organic products are not necessarily “healthy” in every respect as they can be high in fat, sugar, or calories.
- Do not confuse foods labelled “natural” with organic products; only foods bearing the organic logo have met defined standards.
- It is not always possible to make products entirely from organic ingredients because all those needed may not be available in organic form. Therefore, manufacturers of organic foods are permitted to use specific non-organic ingredients provided that ingredients which are organic make up at least 95 per cent of the food. If the product contains 70-95 per cent organic ingredients, the organic description can only be mentioned in the ingredients list, and a clear statement must be given on the front label of the food packet showing the total percentage of ingredients that are organic.
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