A Beginners Guide to Fresh vs. Frozen Produce

First off, Happy National Nutrition Month! Every year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics hosts National Nutrition Month and offers education on nutrition and making better food choices. Each year has a theme, and since National Nutrition Month is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the theme is “Fuel for the Future.” Looking into the future, we want to eat with each phase of life in mind and incorporate ways to help protect the environment.

Eating with each phase of life in mind is just looking at the stages of our lives and breaking down what we need to meet the unique needs of each stage. Those of us who are parents, guardians, or caretakers are also responsible for looking at the health of those under our care and how what we put on the table can fuel them now and keep them healthy. The stages of life we look at in the nutrition world are infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and elderhood. Inside of adulthood, we also focus on prenatal, pregnancy, and postpartum nutrition. With all this being said, fueling for the future can be done with fresh and frozen produce. We can optimize health outcomes and be environmentally friendly with intentionally chosen produce.

Fresh produce is the first thing that comes to mind when people think about “healthy eating.” Fresh produce is a great way to incorporate vitamins, minerals, and nutrients into our diets! The key to fresh produce is buying in season, buying produce on sale, and even going to farmers markets. Fresh fruits and vegetables are often cheaper when they are in season. Grocery stores will also run specials on fresh produce that is in season. This makes purchasing fresh produce more budget-friendly. Buying fresh produce from a farmers market is also a great way to practice sustainability because you can cut out some of the transportation and handling that happens when food needs to be shipped to stores and packaged for sale. Purchasing directly from the grower is also a great way to ensure quality and freshness. Unfortunately, sometimes farmers markets can be a little pricey, but if you can catch a sale or special, you know that your food is super fresh and you are supporting your local economy and farmers.

Fresh produce is the first thing that comes to mind when people think about “healthy eating.

Fresh produce is the first thing that comes to mind when people think about “healthy eating.
Photo credit: Mark Stebnicki – Video Producer NC Farm Bureau

On the other hand, frozen produce is often thought of as “less healthy” or “less nutritious.” Luckily, this is just not the case. Produce is frozen at the peak of freshness, which locks in nutrients and allows the produce to last longer as long as it is kept at the appropriate temperature. Frozen produce is often cheaper than fresh produce, and you can keep frozen produce on hand for longer than fresh without losing nutrients or quality. Sometimes grocery stores will have sales or offer coupons on frozen produce that make it more economical to purchase than fresh, and again, you aren’t sacrificing nutrient density or freshness. The biggest caveat to frozen produce is that sometimes sauces or other food products are added, which add to the caloric load of the food. Being mindful of what is in the package and reading the nutrition label is critical to keeping frozen produce healthy. Frozen produce is a great way to keep fruits and vegetables in the house when you are only cooking for one or two people, need to keep a ton of blueberries in the house (for toddlers who can’t get enough), or for people who just don’t eat fresh produce fast enough before it goes bad. Reducing food waste is one of the ways that frozen produce helps our environment and helps us fuel for the future.

As we step into March and celebrate National Nutrition Month, we can do so with fresh or frozen produce. We can fuel our future and the future of others by being mindful of the nutritional impact that our foods have on each stage of life and the environment.

Happy National Nutrition Month! Enjoy fresh and frozen fruits and veggies every day!

For more information, see HGIC 4017, Vary Your Veggies.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

Factsheet Number



Pin It on Pinterest

Share This