For the past several years I have been what I can only call a “fresh food fanatic”. Based on nothing, and totally without scientific evidence, I single-handedly decided Fresh Is Best! Fresh fruits and vegetables; poultry, beef, and pork that have never been frozen; and, of course, fresh fish and seafood – a real challenge living in southwest Michigan unless one is prepared to catch his own fish. Seafood? Probably not.
So you can imagine my surprise when I learned recently that my biases are misplaced – actually, they’re wrong. The following is copied verbatim from a University research report:
Researchers at Michigan State University analyzed more than 40 scientific journal studies to see if canned fruits and vegetables provide the same nutritional benefits as fresh and frozen produce. Cans are often cheaper than fresh or frozen products, and therefore easier for low-income families to buy. The scientists concluded that not only are canned products on par with fresh and frozen produce nutritionally, in some cases they're better. Canned tomatoes, for instance, have more lycopene and more B vitamins.
"By increasing accessibility to key nutrients many Americans need, canned foods are a year-round solution to help families prepare healthier, balanced meals," Steven Miller, lead researcher and assistant professor at MSU's Center for Economic Analysis, said in a press release.
There is (at least) one other huge exception to my bias that fresh is better than frozen – that being shrimp. When shrimp take their last breath for the good of humanity, their internal enzymes immediately begin a series of reactions which slowly decomposes the flesh. These reactions can be slowed dramatically if the shrimp are placed in ice, and stopped entirely if frozen. Consequently, shortening the time required to catch, process, and freeze the shrimp means shortening the time available for the shrimp to degrade – and once frozen, the shrimp will last for months.
It’s been my experience that many fishmongers offer “fresh” (i.e., unfrozen) shrimp from their display cases. It has also been my experience that these same fishmongers readily admit that they are displaying shrimp they thawed earlier that day (thus allowing at least some time for the degradation process to begin). Unless you plan to use these thawed shrimp immediately, you are much better advised to purchase shrimp that are still frozen. Then you get to decide when they should be thawed.
Once that happens, and if you need a suggestion or two for cooking them, you might consider one of the shrimp recipes cited above. And of course,