Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

What does it mean to ‘eat fresh’?

That is a good question because in the media we hear experts, even not quite experts, saying that we need to eat fresh every day.

Aren’t we eating fresh when the meals we serve were just prepared, isn’t that fresh enough?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Eating fresh foods is a little more complex than freshly made.

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Labeling Law, the term fresh is clearly defined.

Only foods meeting the FDA standards can be labeled according to the following guidelines:

Fresh =

‘Prepared in a manner that suggests or implies that the food is unprocessed, means that the food is in its raw state and has not been frozen or subjected to any form of thermal processing or any other form of preservation, except for approved waxes, post-harvest use of approved pesticides, a mild acid wash on produce or ionizing radiation not to exceed 1 kilogram or refrigerated.’

Fresh frozen and frozen fresh can also be used on the label to describe a fresh food that was quickly frozen while it was fresh.

These label designations are not considered health claims or pertain to the nutrient content of the food.

Poultry cannot be labeled fresh if it was frozen to an internal temperature of below 26 degrees F. However, there is no requirement for seafood to be called fresh fish. Seafood can be previously frozen and still be labeled fresh.

There are advantages to selecting fresh food over processed food items. Nine out of ten people report that it is important to choose fresh foods because they are healthier.

Foods that are fresh generally have a better flavor. Have you ever bitten a vine ripe tomato fresh from the garden? No question there is more flavor in fresh.

There are more nutrients available in fresher foods including vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. Transportation of produce can reduce its nutritional content.

When moving to more fresh foods, less processed or even fewer fast foods, we need to go to the supermarket or farmer’s market more often than we presently shop to keep the freshest foods available for our meals. How we handle fresh foods is also important once we get them home.

Here are a few resources that might help guide your purchases and keep your fresh foods fresher.

Selecting Fruit in Season

Produce Storage Tips  

Freshness is worth the effort!

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