Not Much Difference Between Fresh and Frozen
The Federal Food and Drug Administration has already announced that there is virtually no difference in nutritional content between fresh and frozen vegetables. For most brands, the vegetables are picked fresh, cleaned and cooked very slightly before they are placed in an airtight package and frozen. Many people insist that frozen vegetables have more of the healthy nutrients than their fresh counterparts because they are usually picked at their prime ripening time and frozen immediately. Sprays and time on a truck, coupled with handling and sitting under ultra-violet lights on the store shelves can actually reduce the vitamins you get from fresh produce.
Consider the Source
Homegrown vegetables are hard to beat. You know what, if any, chemicals and fertilizer you used to grow them and you know where they've been since picking. No store-bought vegetables or frozen foods can beat fresh food coming straight from your own garden. Tailgate markets are becoming increasingly popular venues where you can purchase fresh vegetables from your neighbors' gardens. Local growers, who don't have big commercial farms, peddle their wares in parking lots on Saturday mornings all over the country. Get to know some of those vendors to find out what they use to grow their vegetables. Roadside vegetable stands also can offer a source of freshness that is hard to match. Be sure to ask the owners where their produce came from though. Some roadside vendors supplement their own garden goods with vegetables shipped in from larger farms.
Read the Labels
While frozen vegetables can be just as healthy as their fresh counterparts, you must read the labels to find out if additional chemicals or processing formulas were used in the product, which could affect the nutritional content. Sodium is often added for taste and any vegetables prepared in a sauce will contain high amounts of fat and preservatives. Vegetables that are frozen onsite and kept frozen should not need any preservatives. By looking at the nutritional information, you find out the mineral and vitamin content and tell if the processing of the frozen veggies decreased the values. In some tests, lower calcium content was detected on frozen vegetables, while the fresh veggies held lower vitamin C amounts.
Take a Taste Test
For the most part, the biggest difference between fresh and frozen vegetables shows up on the palate. The tastes and how you use them makes all the difference in making your final decisions. If you plan on eating vegetables raw, then it is difficult to substitute frozen for fresh. For cooking, however, frozen vegetables can supply an equal amount of flavor, while giving you more time to enjoy your meal.