Are frozen vegetables as good as fresh? Are canned? How about frozen dinners—all the same, right? I definitely believe there is a hierarchy when it comes to food, and I follow this pattern when making food choices. I’ve been doing it for so long that really it’s second nature for me, but I think being conscious of this hierarchy is a good idea for everybody so here goes.
For produce (fruits and vegetables):
Fresh and organic (if it lacks a thick skin, like apples or berries) > fresh and conventional > dried > frozen > canned > nothing > sweetened
I think juiced is better than whole if the volume of produce (fruits and vegetables) one consumes is generally low, or as people get older and have a harder time digesting fiber (it happens in some of us)
Fresh (the fresher the better), non-hormone, grass-fed (if beef) > fresh conventional > frozen* > cured* > canned* > processed
*(freezing, curing or canning your own fresh caught/cut meats better than mass produced)
It’s not that I totally avoid anything lower on the chain—that’s crazy. But the majority of what I eat—and I strongly believe this is the best practice—is on the top of the chain. It’s one reason I deplore eating out as a regular practice; you just can’t guarantee top quality ingredients all the time. And I don’t care how ‘nice’ the restaurant is, because you just never really know the whole of it (and anyway, there are other reasons, I believe, that dining out regularly is a poor health practice). It makes travel tough for me, unless I have access to grocery stores, because as I’ve said, I naturally lean toward following these hierarchies.
I think that once one develops a taste for fresh, whole foods it’s pretty hard to veer from them too often…that’s my experience anyway.