Fruits and Vegetables: Fresh, Frozen, and Chipped

Ellie Krieger tells us that fruits and vegetables are becoming snack-ified. The food industry is turning just about every fruit and every vegetable you can imagine into chips in a bag. Krieger’s a big fan of a DIY approach:

I learned how tossing kale leaves with a little oil, sprinkling them with salt and baking them turned the vegetable into a tasty, crispy, can’t-have-just-one snack that would thrill my daughter and her friends. It takes an entire bunch of kale and two baking sheets to make four servings, but I have always felt it was worth the effort, and I definitely count the result as a vegetable.

Those Pesky Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Broccoli FloretsMaybe, though, it’s worth looking at the facts of what you’re eating when you eat a fresh vegetable versus these snackified concoctions. Take, for instance, broccoli. Eat it fresh from a veggie platter and a three-ounce serving gives you 25 calories, three grams of fiber, three grams of protein, half your daily needs for vitamin A, and all the vitamin C you need for a day.

Or you could go for Trader Joe’s Crispy Crunchy Broccoli Florets. They come in a bag, so you don’t need to worry about them being fresh. They’re lighter – not much water to weigh them down – so a serving is only 1.4 ounces. But they’re hardly light on the calories. One serving is 220 calories. That comes mostly from “adding a little oil,” as Krieger describes it. It has twice as much sodium and half as much vitamin A.

Even if you dip the fresh florets in ranch dressing, you come out with fewer calories and better food.

The Frozen Alternative

A recent study by food scientists at UC-Davis reminds us that frozen fruits and vegetables are a good alternative to fresh. They’re convenient, so you might waste less because of less spoilage. And they generally have all the vitamins (sometimes more) you’d find in fresh produce.

Consumers seem to be catching on. Industry analysts tell us that frozen foods of all kinds are enjoying a recent, albeit modest, rise in sales. And from where we sit, that’s good news. Fresh frozen fruits and vegetables are the real deal. Chippified pretenders offer nothing but an excuse for mindless munching on mediocre fake food.

Click here for a slightly different perspective from Krieger and here for more on frozen food trends.

Broccoli, photograph © mooste / flickr

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May 20, 2018