Modern technology allows for year round availability of a vast variety of foods. Many foods are canned, frozen and bottled and are being provided to consumers all year long. This has totally changed the way we look at food today. The mass availability of foods at affordable prices is made possible only due to sophisticated food production and preservation methods. But let us look at their impact on your health and nutrition.
Today, research has pointed out the harmful effects of the high use of pesticides and preservatives in our food.
Fresh food is the best option that you can have from a nutritional point of view. For e.g. fresh green peas will definitely have more nutritional value than frozen or canned peas.
Here are some guidelines which will help you decide on the most nutritious food choices for your family.
Buy locally produced Fruits and Vegetables.
Buy locally produced vegetables, as the time taken from the farm to your plate is much less. In such situations, there are less preservatives and chemicals being used to avoid spoiling of vegetables.
Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables.
It would be good to eat seasonal fruits as their storage is not long. Moreover seasonal fruits and vegetables are good for your body. So next time in the strawberry season, ensure that you eat strawberries to your heart’s content.
Frozen fruits and vegetables.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are as nutritious as fresh ones, if they are immediately frozen after picking.
Check the food label on pre-packaged foods.
Check the contents on the food label. It may have sugar, calories, fats, oil, sodium and other preservatives, which are harmful for your health.
Choose Fresh meat as compared to frozen meat.
Choose fresh meat, preferably the low fat varieties such as poultry breast and lean meats.
Use freshly baked whole meal bread.
Use freshly baked whole meal bread or homemade Indian wheat breads like rotis and chapatis for better nutrition. Avoid white, sliced and packaged bread as they have no nutritional value and have a long shelf life.
Tips for choosing organic foods –
There are strict conditions that need to be adhered to before marketing a product as an organic product. Organic fruits, vegetables and grains must be grown on land that has been farmed organically for atleast two years. Only fertilizers and pesticides that are approved for organic production can be used.
No growth or hormone boosting medication.
Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products must come from animals that are given veterinary drugs only to treat diseases and not for growth promotion.
Organic fruits and vegetables are not treated with preservatives. So choose the freshest vegetables available. Always ask your vendor the days when the fresh supplies come in.
Select fresh produce without any blemishes.
Select fresh fruits and vegetables without any blemishes or insect holes.
Read the labels carefully.
Read the labels carefully as organic products are not necessarily healthy in every aspect. They can be high in fat, sugar or calories. Do not confuse with foods labelled as natural, as organic foods. Only those foods which are specifically labelled as organic will be organic.
Food additives are substances that are added to processed foods in order to improve their flavour, appearance, texture or help in maintaining their freshness and shelf life. Sometimes foods like breakfast cereals, juices etc., are added with fortified vitamins and nutrients to enrich their nutritional value, which might have been lost in the refining process.
Entire products may not be organic.
It is not possible to make products entirely from organic ingredients as all the ingredients needed may not be available in the organic form. Most of the times manufacturers mention that 95% of the ingredients are organic in nature.
Genetically Modified Foods –
Modern developments in genetics have been applied to agricultural crops, which can be modified by transferring specific inherited traits from one species to another. This technique known as GM (Genetic modification) and has been used to increase crop yields and improve pest resistance.
Other benefits may be possible in future, such as improving the crops nutritional value and disease resistance and allowing them to survive flood, drought and frost.
There is however a considerable concern that GM crops may pose threats to human health and environment. So it is still not clear whether GM foods are good or not.
There are lots of online fresh food grocery shopping sites, which provide fresh and organic foods right at your doorstep. The above are some of the key facts in understanding the consumption of fresh, frozen, canned or organic food.
Please read our earlier article Tips for storing food in refrigerator.
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