Skip to main content
Live Well. Eat Well.

Is Fresh Produce Best?

Eat more veggies! Eat more fruits! Isn't that what we've been told?

We usually hear the adjective "fresh" in front of those words, as in "fresh fruits and vegetables". But it's winter in central Illinois and fresh is a relative term.

Just how fresh is that bunch of broccoli from California or the grapes from Chile? Is "fresh" always best?

Not necessarily! According to the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, frozen food is more nutritious than "fresh" if the produce has been transported over several miles. Most of our "fresh" produce travels 1500 miles before it reaches our grocers' shelves!

From the moment the produce is harvested, decay begins. As the fruit or vegetable decays, it loses nutrients. Studies have shown that some "fresh' vegetables on the grocery shelf are actually void of nutrients—you are getting colorful, expensive fiber, but not much else. Buying fresh fruits and vegetables out of season has never been budget friendly.

Frozen (without sauce) and low sodium canned are a good way to eat vegetables in the winter. Of course, some things have to be eaten fresh, lettuce, for example is only served fresh. And root vegetables are always a good buy and are stored to retain nutrients.

As for fruit, go for canned in juice (not syrup), frozen or for a different texture try dried. I love serving canned peaches or pears with dried cranberries---heat it to enhance the flavor.

You can feed your family well on a budget if you remember: "Frozen and canned when the weather is bland!"

Be Smart, Eat Well, Get Healthy

Mary Liz Wright
Nutrition and Wellness Educator

Serving the counties of Clark, Crawford & Edgar

University of Illinois Extension
15493 N. Hwy 1
Marshall, IL 62441
phone 217-826-5422 fax 217-826-8631


Image removed.

Easy Chicken and Vegetable Chowder


  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • 1 can (10.75 ounces) reduced sodium cream of potato soup*
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup low-fat milk


  1. Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan.
  2. Stir and heat until hot.
  3. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

*Choose reduced-sodium soups when available

Nutrition Facts

4 servings

Amount Per Serving

Calories 250

Fat 10g

Sodium 590mg

Total Carbohydrate 28g

Fiber 3g

Protein 12g

University of Illinois Extension recipe