No surprise to anyone, fresh produce can be expensive for a good part of the year because of the sheer distance it travels before reaching our plates.
And we pay for it in more ways than one. Those avocados from Florida, cauliflower from California and kiwis from New Zealand use a lot of fossil fuels to be shipped and hauled to our dinner tables.
Eating locally is next to impossible in the winter unless you like root vegetables. In the past, my husband has repeatedly suggested frozen vegetables, but I have some pretty grim childhood memories of rubbery or mushy frozen peas and carrots.
However, once I learned that frozen produce had more nutrients than the fresh variety shipped here from warmer climates, I was willing to give it a try. Frozen produce is picked at peak ripeness when it has all its nutrients, whereas its California counterpart is picked and shipped before ever reaching that point. In addition, these veggies further lose their nutrients on their trip north.
I also learned that a Quebec engineer has dramatically improved the freezing process. Frozen vegetables are picked and frozen within a two-hour period. And more good news—-a lot of the veggies come from the Richelieu Valley, a 45-minute drive from Montreal, so we can still eat locally.
Obviously, all of this means nothing if the end product is tasteless. Well, much to my surprise, these frozen veggies exceeded my expectations. Not only was the taste better than the fresh variety available in the winter months, but the consistency was vegetable-like.
I found only two drawbacks. There was no organic line, and the re-sealable bag did not have a recycling symbol or number on it.
But an organic line may not be necessary after all.
According to David Suzuki’s Green Guide, in the interest of reducing green house gas emissions, we should choose local conventionally grown produce over the organically grown variety that is shipped over long distances. Remember, there are only 5 vegetables on the EWG`s Dirty Dozen, and we're not about to buy frozen lettuce, celery or kale.
As for sweet bell peppers, I buy a large basket of the local organic variety at the end of September, and cut and freeze them for the winter. I guess we can do the same with carrots.
It's now possible to eat a variety of local vegetables year round.