What we can learn from the berry saga

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or in your freezer) you are probably well aware of the Hep A berry saga.

The news first broke on Valentines Day, when many lovers might have been baking berry crumbles or decadent desserts with a berry compote for their significant other.

Then all of a sudden Nanna’s frozen berries were recalled due to cases of Hepatitis A reported in those eating the berries.

Since last weekend, we have all ran to our kitchens to check the bag of frozen berries at the back of our freezer. While most of us are safe and hep A-free, there is definitely something to consider with this whole mess…

EAT LOCAL

If you were listening to my radio interview on MAIN fm’s ‘Word on the Street’ segment on Wednesday you would’ve heard me talk all about the importance of buying locally.

Fresh produce doesn’t have to travel as far as international produce. The risk increases when the distance from paddock to plate increases. So when buying fresh and local produce, there is definitely less risk of contamination at the picking, washing, packaging and distribution stages compared to those products that have a long way to travel.

While poor old Nanna picked her berries in China, Aussie berry growers are saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the amazing berries grown here down under. So support local growers where you can! Why not buy them fresh and freeze them yourself?

Last year during fig season. Playing fetch with my dog Toby while helping myself to fresh produce off the fig trees!

Last year during fig season at my parents home. Playing fetch with my dog Toby while helping myself to fresh produce off the fruit trees. No Hepatitis A in that batch!

But what about nutrition?

Well I have to say, frozen produce can be just as nutritious as fresh produce. In fact, a bag of frozen berries can be more nutritious than that 5 day old punnet of blueberries sitting in your fridge. Same with that wilted buk choy in the vegetable compartment of your fridge. When fresh fruit or vegetables wilt or go wrinkly, they are slowly losing their water and nutrient content. So of course fresh and ripe is best, however frozen produce can be equally as nutritious.

I do tend to store frozen vegetables and fruit in my freezer and they definitely come in handy when I don’t have fresh produce in my fruit bowl.

But maybe when purchasing frozen produce, let us consider where exactly the food is coming from and let’s try and make sure it’s from Australian growers. To reduce that whole paddock to plate time I mentioned earlier.

These were Hep A-free frozen berries

These were Hep A-free frozen berries

So eat locally grown products where possible. If you have the time and access, shop at farmers markets or grow your own fruit and vegetables at home in the backyard.

But when that’s not possible and a bag of frozen fruit or veggies is necessary, always ask yourself, “where is my food coming from?”

– Jenna

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