We're all aware that we should eat plenty of fresh food for optimum health benefits. But how can you be sure your food genuinely is fresh? Many foods are treated with chemicals to prolong their shelf life, meaning that our 'fresh' fruit could actually be months old by the time we eat it - or as long as a year old. Even meat can be vacuum-packed to store it for longer. So how can you be sure of eating food that's genuinely fresh? Try these tips …
1. Grow It Yourself
The only way to be absolutely sure your food is fresh is to grow as much as you can yourself. Of course this is only really practical for fruit and vegetables, and only if you have a big enough garden. But growing your own means that you can be certain of eating food that could not possibly be any fresher - picked straight from your own garden!
2. Buy Organic
Buying organic food will also help ensure that you're eating fresh produce, since it's made without any chemical additives. If your budget doesn't allow you to only buy organic, pick those fruits and vegetables that have thin skins or are eaten unpeeled. It's worth including as much organic produce in your diet as possible.
3. Specialist Shops
It's also better to buy from specialist shops rather than supermarkets that bring in their stock from hundreds or thousands of miles away. You can ask questions about where they source their products from and how they store them. For example, if you buy your meat from a local butcher they will probably source their meat locally.
4. Buy Local & Seasonal
Buy local produce wherever possible; look out for farmers' markets and produce labelled as locally produced. It's also helpful to avoid produce that's been imported; stick to seasonal produce so that you know it hasn't been grown elsewhere and transported over long distances.
Looking at the packaging can also give you a clue as to whether the food really is that fresh. If it's labelled 'packaged in a protective atmosphere' or is packed in strong plastic, it probably isn't that fresh. Also read the label and see if there are any other ingredients listed.
6. Bake Your Own
You might think that if you buy bread that's 'baked fresh on the premises', you can be sure it IS fresh. But that might just mean that the store brings in frozen dough and only the final baking is done in store. Bake your own bread and cakes, and you can guarantee that they won't be full of additives and preservatives.
7. Buy Frozen/Canned
If you really can't find genuinely fresh fruit and vegetables, buy canned or frozen ones. Ironically, they often have more nutrients than so-called fresh vegetables. This is because they're frozen and packed soon after picking, whereas it may take some time for 'fresh' vegetables to reach the point of sale.
It's easy to be fooled into thinking that we're buying fresh food when it's actually nothing of the sort. To be sure that you are buying fresh food requires careful shopping and awareness of the tricks that shops use. Although it's near impossible to buy everything totally fresh, you can at least try to buy more genuinely fresh food. What supermarket tricks annoy you?