Fresh versus Canned or Frozen Fruit and Vegetables

At coffeetime the other day, Myrna and I were talking about “always buying everything fresh”.  Most food shows and websites emphasize this like there is no other option and that fresh and organic are always superior.  Out here in farm country, we know that “organic” is only as organic as how far your crop is from the nearest regular farmer.  And as Myrna noted, many recalls are for “organic” produce.
We grew up in Minnesota in an area with canning factories and farmers who raised vegetable crops for canning or freezing.  We saw crops that were turned under if they were a little past peak, and the factories ran night and day for the short time that the harvest was in season.  English peas, sweet corn, and cucumbers for pickles were the popular crops there.  We have both lived where fresh produce was scarce,  of very poor quality and expensive too.
Because of this, we have no hesitation in buying canned or frozen PLAIN vegetables and fruits when we don’t have any home-canned of our own, and those vegetables are out-of –season.  I especially like plain, frozen vegetables I can cook in just the amount I want, with no waste, I usually buy them when they are on sale and stock up until the next sale, and the same for canned vegetables and fruit that we like.  I also buy those little cans of some vegetables, like sauerkraut, that we can use for one meal.  I'd rather have some canned vegetables with a meal than salty, fatty chips, for instance, and canned fruit instead of sugary fatty desserts.
We like canned goods; either home-canned or purchased, for emergency supplies too...they have their own liquid and don't need heat if you don't have it.   You can purchase fruits, vegetables, soups, meats, fish, poultry and legumes, as well as canning your own, to make quick emergency meals your family will actually eat.  We eat what we store and store what we eat.  We keep our pantries turned over regularly.
We don’t think out-of–season fruits and vegetables shipped from California or even Chile are really fresh!  We have a tendency to buy local fresh produce or buy canned or frozen produce.  As Myrna says, she’d rather have canned tomatoes in a recipe than the cardboard tomatoes sold as “Fresh” in a lot of grocery stores.
We think you can cut down on food waste and save money, as well as always having some fruit and vegetables on hand, ready to use.  If life gets busy or you bought more than you needed you won’t have moldy berries or rotted tomatoes on the counter. 
As for buying more fresh produce than you need; I always ask the produce manager if I can buy just a partial amount of those local store-bagged potatoes, grapes etc.  Both of our local supermarkets let you buy a smaller amount as they weigh them anyway.  I wouldn’t open factory-bagged and sealed potatoes, carrots or salad greens, however.  Use your fresh produce first and then frozen or canned for the rest of the week.


  1. I have read that canned or frozen fruits and vegetables retain more of their nutrients because they are processed within hours of harvest. If you aren't buying local fresh produce in season, you don't know how long it's been in transit and therefore losing nutrients.

  2. Very good points - especially that produce that's shipped isn't really "fresh". I just took stock of our pantry this weekend. It takes a consistent effort to use it up. I just hate when I "drop the ball" with food freshness. My mom and grandmothers were better at working with whatever they had, and not letting any of it go to waste. Your approach to cooking seems much the same as theirs, and is what I continue to strive for.

  3. Fresh is best but as you said not always available.


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