It’s hard to imagine college life without frozen foods! Every classy co-ed knows that quick meals can be produced in seconds thanks to freezers and microwaves after a long day of classes, sorority life, extracurricular activities and work. But have you ever really considered the frozen foods that you’re consuming between studying and social life? How are they made, what ingredients are in them, and are they healthy or not? Below, College Lifestyles chills out by taking a look inside the freezer…
How long have frozen foods been around? Believe it or not, ladies, frozen foods (and other methods of preservation) have been around for quite some time. Consider colder ancient climates or icy winters in more varied climates- it would be convenient to store meats on ice in order to avoid spoilage and preserve food for later consumption.
How are foods frozen? It wasn’t until around the late 1800s and early 1900s that foods were flash frozen- the method by which most frozen foods are chilled today. This method preserves flavor and nutrients much better than historical freezing techniques, mainly because the freezing process is so rapid. Another common method is individual quick freezing (IQF), which is often used with berries. With the IQF method, food pieces are flash frozen individually, and then stored together. Often, extra ingredients are added to aid in the preservation process.
What added ingredients are most common? Sugar and salt, of course! Sugar is often added to frozen fruits and salt to meats and even vegetables. These added ingredients attach unwanted calories and sodium.
So, are frozen foods healthy or not? Historically, frozen foods are not unhealthy. In fact, by storing out of season foods, people had (and have!) access to nutrients year-round that they would normally only have had access to at one time of the year. Even today, not every food is in season everywhere, at all times. It’s fabulous to be able to eat blueberries in December! In fact, your school’s dining hall relies heavily on frozen foods to keep everyone fed! Frozen foods can also be preferable to canned foods for some people since freezing may preserve textures better.
HOWEVER, it all comes down to WHAT frozen foods you’re eating. This article has largely been about frozen fruits, vegetables, and meats, while we all know that there are also frozen pizza rolls, “TV dinners,” chicken pot pies and waffles. Freezing food is not inherently bad: if it’s healthy fresh, it most likely will be when it’s frozen as well. But freezing an unhealthy food won’t make it healthy, so follow the same health rules with frozen food you would follow with fresh food!
Hannah Borland, a senior in Dietetics at Michigan State University, is a Health and High School Writer for College Lifestyles. This is her last article of the summer and she wants everyone to know that she thoroughly enjoyed her time as a College Lifestyles intern!