FoodShopping

How much cabbage can you eat during the winter?

As an expat you may be used to lovely fresh and tasty vegetables (and fruit) all year round. The move to Denmark provides a rude awakening as to how to source what you are used to – certainly during the winter season. What can you do?

The article continues below.

Think global – eat local, could almost be the slogan of local producers of fruit and vegetables, and buying local produce is what nutritional experts all recommend eating these days because the amounts of vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables, which have travelled far, are lower compared with those produced locally

During the summer season there is good selection of Danish produce to choose from, so you may find the eat local easier to comply with.

However, during the winter months in Denmark, sourcing local becomes a real problem, as a variety of cabbages, carrots and potatoes are really the only available local produce, and even though certainly healthy, the lack in variety can add to your general sense of gloom during these grey winter days.

The article continues below.

Picked before they are ripe

In order to accommodate modern consumers, who want their fresh products to look good and undamaged, fruit and vegetables are picked before they become ripe.

This makes them easier to transport and the ripening process is stopped during transport and set back in action upon arrival with the gas called ethylene – it has the same effect as when you put oranges and bananas together – the bananas also ripen quickly in your fruit bowl.

However, the fact of picking them before they are ripe means that they have not been able to absorb as many nutrient’s, minerals and vitamins, as the ones left on the stem for a longer time and only picked when they are ripe. The longer they stay on, the more they can absorb.

An American study found that there was a lower amount of vitamins and minerals in 43 different crops when comparing values measured in 1950 with those of 2015.

“If a fruit is left on a plant until the end of its life cycle, it’s able to recycle all the energy from the plant. If you pick it early you truncate that process and get fewer sugars into the fruit, which are needed to bind the nutrients. If you pick a tomato that you have grown at home, it tastes fabulous because it’s absolutely ready to eat.

But there’s no way you could do that at a commercial level because of the bruising that would occur if ripe fruits were transported through a typical supply chain. There has to be a compromise somewhere,” says Dr. Carol Wagstaff, professor at the University of Reading (UK), the New Scientist’s article Best Before.

The article continues below.

Surprisingly – frozen is better than fresh

During the last 10 years the call to eat local produce has been adhered to by many consumers – only when living in Denmark this becomes quite a challenge during the winter. The local selection of Danish fruit is limited to apples and pears, and as for vegetables, carrots, different cabbage variants and potatoes seem to be the only local selection.

Honestly, how much cabbage can you eat?

Contrary to most beliefs – frozen fruit and vegetables are actually a good alternative.

Nutritional experts all emphasise that the fruit and vegetables used in frozen products are picked when ripe and frozen very quickly after being harvested; even long before the degradation process of their minerals and vitamins has begun.

“Frozen vegetables are extremely good in terms of nutritional value. You can leave them on the plant longer, so they are at a better ripening stage when picked. Peas, for example, lose 50 percent of their vitamin C content within 48 hours after picking.

Most peas selected for freezing are in sub-zero temperatures within two hours after picking, retaining a huge chunk of their nutritional value. These icy peas also need significantly fewer additives. The preservation is from the frosty temperature,” says Dr. Carol Wagstaff .

So next time you go shopping – check out the frozen counter as an alternative to the fresh one.

 

Source: Chloe Lambert, “Best Before?” New Scientist, 17 October, 2015