Frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious, if not MORE nutritious, than the vegetables you buy in the produce section. Yup. You read that the right. It says that you might be getting more nutrients from frozen vegetables than “fresh” vegetables. IF you are able to buy your vegetables from a local farmers market, that is where you most likely will get the most nutrient rich vegetables. But be aware. In our area–in and around San Jose–we have farmers markets pretty much every day of the week during the summer and it depends on WHEN the farmer has come to the bay area and when they picked their veggies.
I know that we attended one local market (and we have not been back) that was on a Sunday. And the farmers claimed to have been in the area since Friday, and we saw them at a market on Saturday, and to tell you honestly it showed. They vegetables had to be picked before Friday for them to have come up to the Friday market (and they could have even come to the Thursday or Wednesday Farmers Market). It was the warm season and without refrigeration, the produce was very tired and wilted by Sunday. As I said, my hubby and I have not actually been back to that particular market because the produce was so unappealing. The idea of a farmers market is that you are getting FRESH produce, but when some farmers attend all the markets in the area they might not be that fresh. The items probably were picked at the proper time, but within days they start to lose nutrients and without refrigeration they start to rapidly decay.
With produce from the grocery stores it is often harvested before it even reaches its full nutrient potential, and then once it is picked it might ripen some more but it will not have the full nutrients as it would have had it been picked after it reached its peak. By the time produce travels to the stores and is ready for purchase it has lost a lot of its nutrient value.
The popular length of time I am seeing articles state is two weeks. Vegetables can be picked up to two weeks before it reaches the store. Then . . . it MIGHT not get put out for purchase right away (lets be generous and say it only sits for a day), then often times we buy it and it sits in the fridge for (lets be generous and say it sits for only two days). That is a long time in which the vegetable is losing nutrients. It might still LOOK pretty, but it is not a pack full of goodness as we might hope.
With vegetables that get frozen they are pick at the proper ripeness and blanched, frozen, and/or flash frozen right away so their vitamins and minerals as sealed in. The breakdown of enzymes is halted in the process. Supposedly in 1998 the Federal Drug Administration found that frozen vegetables have basically the same nutrient as fresh. I cannot find anything on a government page confirming that but I can find it on a slew of other pages.
So it is quite possible that the veggies in the grocery stores frozen section have more nutrients than the produce section. Read the labels to check if anything has been added like sugar and/or salt because those are not things you would find in “fresh” veggies so you probably want to avoid them in the frozen ones too.
My plan consists of having fresh veggies, however fresh they are from the store or the local market, within the first two maybe three days of having purchased them. I have frozen veggies in the freezer for when a trip to the store isn’t fitting into the schedule. But it used to be that those frozen veggies would sit and get freezer burned because I thought they weren’t good enough. But now I believe they are good, if not better, so I make sure to employ a rotation exercise, and we eat them in a reasonable amount of time. Ya know when the schedule is tight and getting fresh ones isn’t quiet happening. Then on the next trip to the store we get “fresh” and frozen vegetables to back into the fridge for when the schedule is tight again. I would always rather have some sort of veggie than none at all. And yes, that even means a canned vegetables.