8. Packaged, Frozen And Canned Foods—General Information And Storage
The Dole Pineapple Company published a booklet in 1976 called the “Shrewd Shopper’s Produce Guide.” It contains much valuable information about the selection and storage of fresh produce, but, even more interesting to Hygienists are some quotations from this booklet which indicate their understanding of the superiority of fresh foods (even though the Dole Company markets canned foods as well). The following quotations could have been written by a Hygienist:
“Fresh produce provides the major portion of essential water-soluble vitamins. These must be replenished daily. Fresh produce provides bulk and fiber to help clear blood vessels of cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, and fresh produce helps keep bowels functioning normally.
“Nutritionally, there is rarely a question about the superiority of fresh over processed produce. The less a fruit or vegetable is changed, including over-washing, the more food value it retains. Yet we somehow think packaged foods are more convenient—in fact, just the opposite is the case.
“Convenience” refers to the time and energy spent in preparation. Since there is very little time spent preparing fresh produce in its more nutritious, best tasting, lushest form, it certainly is one of the most convenient food forms.
“Many Americans have no idea how rich, varied and delicious fresh vegetables can be, quickly steamed…or even crisp and raw.
“One drawback with frozen vegetables is their expense. Another is that improper blanching before packaging may destroy up to 50% of the Vitamin C in vegetables; cooking destroys even more. Also, packages usually call for salted water to bring out flavor. If salt is added to vegetables during cooking, juices that carry water-soluble vitamins (like Vitamin C), minerals, sugars and flavors are drawn from the vegetables. Which means you pay more for less flavor and nutrition.
“Canned vegetables lose much of their color when they are cooked in the canning process…Each time a vegetable is reheated, it loses more of its precious water-soluble vitamins and minerals.
“Compare the cost of a ten-pound bag of potatoes with freeze-dried, instant or frozen potatoes. You may pay up to eight times more for packaged potatoes which may have lost at least 50% of their Vitamin C. Processors ‘enrich’ their products, but can’t duplicate valuable trace elements. Moreover, because no human nutritional quantity values have been established for trace elements, there are no guidelines. Which means fresh produce is even more essential.”
The advice of the Dole Pineapple Company is clear. Buy and utilize fresh produce. That is also the advice given in this lesson, and the practice of all Hygienists.
It is not recommended that packaged, frozen or canned foods ever be used, but there are always the inevitable questions about exceptions and compromises, so let’s deal with them here.
Sometimes even fresh produce comes pre-packaged. Although that is not the best way to buy produce, you may occasionally buy some of these pre-packaged items. Be sure to look at the dating code.
You might buy pre-packaged dried fruits, legumes, or grains in your health food store. Read the labels. Don’t buy anything containing preservatives or chemicals—or anything you don’t understand.
When buying any prepackaged item, be sure the package hasn’t been tampered with, or broken open.
It is possible you might be tempted to buy frozen food in an emergency. Think well before doing so. Frozen foods may have been partially thawed and refrozen in shipping and handling. And what has been added? How will it taste, compared to fresh food? If you still want to consider buying it, read the label. You might change your mind.
If you ever do buy frozen food, select clean packages that have no signs of having been partially thawed and refrozen.
But always remember, any time you compromise and decide to use anything other than fresh food, you are doing it for some reason other than to provide the best nutrition. Are you sure that is what you want?
Storage: If you do ever use packaged, canned or frozen food, you will need to know where and for how long you may store them. Packaged foods should be stored according to directions given for the specific item involved, usually in the refrigerator, tightly covered or bagged to keep out moisture. The fewer packaged foods you use, the better.
Frozen foods must, of course, be stored in the freezer. It is best to buy no more than you will use in the immediate future. Frozen produce is not subject to as many dangers as frozen flesh foods, but there can still be deterioration and spoilage. The fewer frozen foods you use the better.
Canned goods will, of course, keep quite a while if properly processed and if the can is not bulging, rusted, dented or otherwise damaged. If it is bulging, don’t open it, don’t taste it, don’t even let the contents touch your hands. The bulge indicates botulism.
Undamaged canned goods are said to keep almost indefinitely, but it is best to use them within six months to a year. Better yet is not to use canned goods at all.
- 1. Vegetables
- 2. Storage Of Fresh Vegetables
- 3. Purchasing And Storing Seeds For Sprouting And Ready-To-Eat Sprouts
- 4. Selection And Storage Of Dried Grains And Legumes
- 5. Bread—General Information
- 6. Butter And Oil—General Information
- 7. Sweeteners
- 8. Packaged, Frozen And Canned Foods—General Information And Storage
- 9. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Well! You Wanted To Know By V.V. Vetrano, B.S., D.C.