Fruits and veggies are important elements to every diet, but is there a difference between fresh, canned and frozen produce? It’s a common question. Read on to learn more about the different benefits and how to get the most out of the way you consume produce!

Fresh

  • Let’s be honest – most of the time, fresh produce just tastes best. There’s nothing like the crunch of fresh broccoli or the burst of flavor that comes from a newly harvested blackberry. Fresh produce is undeniably tasty.
  • Purchasing fresh fruits and veggies can be a great way to support local farms and stimulate your local economy. Typical in communities of all sizes, your local farmers market is the perfect chance to get fresh, locally sourced produce to add some flavor and nutrition to your diet.
  • Best way to eat: plain and simple! Fresh produce is bursting with flavor, and nothing canned or frozen can beat it when standing alone. Enjoy those fresh fruits and veggies by themselves or mixed in simple fruit parfaits, salads and vegetable medleys.

Canned

  • Canned produce is perfect for long-term storage. It’s easy to keep some canned veggies in the pantry at all times. They’re perfect for those last-minute meals and important in case of emergency.
  • Surprisingly, canned produce retains all the nutritional benefits of fresh produce. Harvest takes place while the produce is at its peak nutrition levels, and all that goodness is preserved when canned. Of course, make sure your fruit is packed in 100 percent juice, not syrup.
  • Best way to eat: cooked. Canned produce can be a great addition to meals cooked on the stovetop or in the oven. Rinse in cold water to get rid of extra sodium before adding them in, then use them to take your meal to the next level!

Frozen

  • While frozen produce may not keep as long as canned, it certainly will last longer than it would fresh. If you have a habit of letting fresh produce spoil before eating all of it, try substituting some of your purchases with that found in the freezer section.
  • Like canned produce, frozen fruits and veggies are harvested and frozen during their prime time, so never fear – all the good vitamins and nutrition will still be packed in when you’re ready to eat!
  • Best way to eat: in smoothies and soups. To get the perfect smoothie, try using frozen fruit. For those veggies in your freezer, soups and chilis serve as a great base for getting the best results.

What we think

Fresh, canned and frozen produce should all play prominent roles in your normal diet. While canned beans may be a perfect staple to keep in your pantry long term, fresh fruit will always be more satisfying on a hot summer day than its frozen counterpart. Fresh, canned and frozen produce all have their uses and benefits.

Unfortunately, however, many Arkansans have limited access to fresh produce. Food banks and pantries rarely receive fresh donations, leaving one out of every six people in Arkansas primarily with only canned and frozen produce.

The AHRA Gleaning Project works to provide fresh produce for everyone. At events such as the annual Watermelon Crawl, volunteers glean fresh produce to be donated straight to food banks, pantries and kitchens.

Click here to learn more about the Gleaning Project.