Eat Fresh Foods! My good buddy Daniel e-mailed me this morning in the mood to clean out cupboards and asked me about the shelf life of food. I am thus inspired to write this post on the importance of eating truly fresh foods, and not hesitating to throw out that which is questionable. Most of my friends abhor wasting things, and being brought up by Depression Era parents, I also learned early "Waste Not, Want Not". It's a good part of the reason I eat out so much. Being a single person, it is hard to use groceries properly fresh and not produce too much waste. Things are packaged for families, and bargains are to be had in even larger quantities at Costco and the like. I am fortunate to have neighbors and friends who sometimes split bigger purchases with me, but still it is not a simple task to eat a fresh and varied diet without producing too much waste as a single.
Spoilage and avoiding getting food poisoning is one issue, but beyond that, the nutritional value of foods falls precipitously from the fields to the table, let alone in the storage bin. Think not just of waste in the garbage can, but of wasting your body with nutritionally void foods. Especially when you think you are avoiding junk foods and eating healthy!
Health Goods has reproduced a comprehensive Food Storage Guidelines for Consumers by Tim Roberts & Paul Graham of Virginia Tech on food storage and spoilage. BusinessWeek also published an interesting and informative article recently "The Truth About Food Expiration Dates". HGOF has some good food storage tips as well as tips on how to cook to preserve the nutritional value of food. A Science Daily article discusses the loss of nutrients in Spinach while stored. An oldie but goodie from the New York Times instructs us on "Preserving the Nutrients of Food with Proper Care". I'm not 100% on all the things mentioned in it, but it has more useful information than not. And here is an interesting piece (reads like an 'ode to') from Organica News on what pickling, culturing and fermentation can add to the nutritional value of foods and shelf life.
After reading all of this, it is evident that the closer to home it's grown the better, the fresher the better, and proper storage and preservation techniques are imperative to healthy, nutritious (and delicious!) foods.