Nutritionally, preserved fruits and vegetables can be equivalent or superior to fresh, said Diane Barrett, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis.
By the time a stalk of broccoli makes it from the farm to the supermarket to your refrigerator, it has already lost some of its nutritional value. "Fruits and vegetables are frozen within hours of harvest, so that actually allows you to retain those nutrients," Barrett said.
Barrett's analyses show that vitamin C, fiber, potassium and zinc remain intact during the freezing process. Blanching before freezing may make vitamins A and E more digestible.
Mother Jones senior editor Kiera Butler turned to Carl Winter, also a UCCE specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, for information about pesticide residue in fresh and processed food.
Processed fruits and vegetables generally have less pesticide residue than fresh conventional produce, Winter said. This is because some fruits and vegetables are washed in a machine that jostles them around to remove dirt and debris before they are processed. Some are also blanched and peeled.
How much sugar is in a can of soda? Is an instant noodle cup a healthy lunch? The answers are in a video produced by San Diego County News Center that featured a nutrition presentation by UC Cooperative Extension nutrition educator Shirley Salado. Salado is part of EFNEP - the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program.
UCCE has hosted EFNEP in San Diego County for nearly 40 years, educating underserved, low-income populations on making healthy food and fitness choices for themselves and their children.
See the video here:
Spezzano shared tips about increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in the diet and the importance of developing a regular exercise routine.
The mother of two young sons, Spezzano said they sit down together on Sundays with grocery store ads and plan the week's meals.
"We love the summer because it is so much easier to get fresh fruit and vegetables," Spezzano said. "We grow our own vegetables and go to the farmers' market on Saturday and that helps us plan meals also."
The Fresno Bee sought information from UCCE for a front-page story that appeared Monday about food waste. Americans throw away 90 billion pounds of food a year, the newspaper reported.
Ginnie Nash, UCCE nutrition education program manager, suggested buying only what you need. It sounds obvious, writer Bethany Clough acknowledged in the article, but buying too much is one of the biggest sources of food waste.
"We get busy. It's tough," Nash said. Plan meals on paper and see what's in the refrigerator and cupboard before going shopping.
Field trips for students to learn about eating healthy, which include presentations by UC Cooperative Extension nutrition educators in Tulare and Fresno counties, have appeared recently on ABC 30 Action News in Fresno.
In Fresno, the children visited the Fresno Unified Nutrition Center to try foods like jicama, broccoli and sweet potatoes and tour the processing line where their lunches are made.
In Tulare, children took part in AgVenture Day to make the connection between agricultural production and the food they eat. AgVenture Day was held International Agri-Center in Tulare and was sponsored by International Agri-Center, Tulare County Farm Bureau and UC Cooperative Extension.
UCCE nutrition educators presented an engaging skit to show the importance of good nutrition.
"We want to show them (that) someone grows it, someone processes it, someone eats it. And it helps you to think and learn and grow," said Julie Cates, UC Cooperative Extension.
Curlee's article noted that UCCE has, "Knowledgeable, trained advisors ... on hand locally ... to help with meal planning, wise shopping, individual diet planning and overall nutritional health."
The column was prompted by the January-March issue of California Agriculture journal, a special issue focusing on "Healthy Families and Communities." In the opening editorial, former California Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin said the state is facing a crisis in the health and education of its young people, Curlee reported.
“The challenges include high childhood obesity, rising school dropout rates and low student achievement, especially in the sciences," Eastin said. “Healthy families and children are vital to our nation and its prosperous future. It is time that key players in higher education join in a project to promote the general welfare by focusing on measurable scientific initiatives we can pursue to ensure the blessings of liberty to our posterity.”