What's Better: Canned Food or Frozen Food?
May 13, 2017
Linda Watson in canned food, energy use, engaged cooking, frozen food, make a difference

Processing fruits and vegetables wastes less food but uses more energy than using them fresh. It turns out that frozen food takes a lot more energy than canned food. The nutrition depends on a number of factors, including harvesting, processing, storage method, and age, as this study from UC Davis shows.

As the chart below shows, growing a pound of corn kernels takes about 450 calories. (The corn itself contains just 375 calories, so it takes 120 calories of energy to produce 100 calories of corn.) Canning it takes a total of 2031 calories, largely from the energy needed to make the can. Frozen corn takes less packaging but more processing, with 2985 calories needed for a pound of corn, nearly 8 times the energy contained in the corn itself. (Source: Food, Energy, and Society, third edition, by David Pimentel and Marcia H. Pimentel.)

Chart - energy to process fresh corn, canned corn, and frozen corn

Should You Buy Frozen, Canned, or Fresh Vegetables and Fruit?

Buy fresh, local produce in season whenever you possible. If food has to travel a long way or is out of season, consider canned food first and then frozen food. You'll waste less food while still getting good nutrition. Canned tomatoes and beans have good texture and flavor. Frozen greens are a great convenience and work well in sauces and stews. Experiment to find out what works best for your family.

Article originally appeared on Cook for Good, home of Wildly Affordable Organic and Fifty Weeks of Green (http://cookforgood.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.