Many consumers say they prefer fresh food over frozen or canned. But is the food in the produce section really “fresh”? I had the pleasure of speaking with Molly McCargar of Pearmine Farms, Inc. in Gervais, Oregon and her insight was fascinating. Molly, along with her brother, is a fourth generation farmer of Pearmine Farms which has 600 acres producing grass seed, sweet cherries, broccoli, corn, green beans, and new this year, strawberries. Pearmine Farms along with approximately 240 other Willamette Valley Farms contracts with NORPAC Foods, Inc., an Oregon company processing and freezing food to maintain maximum nutrition. As Molly and I discussed grocery shopping habits and how we think of food, she mentioned that she never buys broccoli in the produce section when broccoli is out of season locally. When I asked her why, she said, “Because raw does not always mean fresh”. I have to admit I had to think about this statement for a moment as I had always been taught that food in the produce section was the most optimal. Molly was quick to point out that food that is raw may have to travel for 10 days before it hits the grocery store. However, the food in the frozen section from NORPAC under the many labels it processes for would have fresh frozen food to offer. The broccoli that is fresh cut from Pearmine Farms goes to NORPAC and is frozen within 4-6 hours that day and locally distributed to Oregon grocery stores. There is also no way of knowing growing practices with food that does not come from our state, let alone our country. It may be laden with pesticides or be full of pests! Food that is already 10 days old will also have started to breakdown and decay. So the next time you stand before the raw carrots in the produce section, ask yourself if they are in season and if so, are they grown in the region. Chances are you may start purchasing more fresh frozen foods.
For more information on Pearmine Farms, Inc. please go to their website www.pearminefarms.com