Fresh-Food Love Affair Indicates Paradigm Shift

Prairie Gleanings

Once upon a time, Americans were impressed with food preservation techniques. Not any more.

Published on: April 8, 2011
Throughout history, we’ve put a premium on the ability to harvest food and store it.

Sometime in the mid-19th Century, canning began to catch on. For Europeans, canned food was a status symbol. Remember the first time you heard about the freeze-dried food astronauts were eating?

A lot of folks still keep multiple freezers in the basement so they can stock up on good deals without fearing expiration before they get a chance to enjoy the savings. From the stocked freezer to the World War I soldiers who scarfed down cans of vegetables, it’s all about food security and price.

Today, the world has completely changed its opinion of storing food. What was once a major breakthrough is now the antithesis of healthy eating, taste and status. If you’re eating canned green beans instead of buying them fresh from a farmer’s market, you’re out of touch. (By the way, if those farmer’s market beans are organic, give yourself bonus points in the posh category.)

I’m not going to argue the taste portion of this paradigm shift. Unless we’re talking about Spam (in which case I’d be quite leery of the fresh alternative), fresh nearly always tastes better. However, in our search for the tastiest/freshest ingredients, let’s not forget a few things.

1. Without food preservation techniques/modern shipping, most of us would not be eating produce during the winter months.

2. The right canned/frozen fruits and vegetables are still healthy. If this country ate only canned vegetables, I doubt we’d have an obesity epidemic on our hands.

3. As Americans, we have the luxury of hunting down fresh veggies at farmers markets because we are food secure. Don’t ever forget that.

4. Don’t get caught up in the marketing terms. A farmer raising grass-fed beef once secretly divulged that grain-fed beef tastes better. I agree.

5. Remember that price is an issue for a significant portion of American consumers. Don’t condemn these consumers because they can’t afford fresh organic lettuce.

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