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Are Fresh & Local the Gold Standard?

The terms 'fresh' and 'local' have become major buzzwords in today's food industry but we think they may be overrated. Here's why.cherry

In a perfect world all fruits and veggies would be organic, produced locally, and available fresh 365 days a year, and everyone would have enough time in their day—every day—to harvest or purchase and prepare those fruits and veggies. It may sound ideal but it's a far cry from reality.

In the real world most people are pressed for time and locally-produced fruits and veggies are only available on a seasonal basis (here in South Dakota, that means late July through mid September, or about 6 to 8 weeks out of 52). 'Local' doesn't say anything about pesticide or herbicide use and grocery-store 'fresh' usually equates to produce that was harvested before it had a chance to ripen on the vine so it could be transported over several days time without spoiling. It's important to go beyond the fresh and local terms to make good selections.

Knowing When to Choose Organic

Again, in a perfect world, organic would always be the best choice, but organic fruits and vegetables are not always accessible or affordable. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a consumer watchdog organization, conducts annual tests on fruits and veggies to measure pesticide residues. The results are published on the EWG website as "The Dirty Dozen+".

Buffaloberries™ has always used organic versions of dirty dozen fruits and veggies; no-salt added, no-sugar added, and BPA-free brands of canned veggies; no-salt added frozen veggies; and no-sugar added frozen fruits.


Frozen foods seem to have gotten an undeserved bad rap in recent years but frozen fruits and vegetables are typically picked at the peak of freshness and quick frozen for optimal quality. Look for fruits with no added sugar and veggies with no added salt or other seasonings.


Canned vegetables have historically been high in sodium and canned fruits have historically been high in sugar. Also, most cans are lined with BPA, an industrial chemical that can seep back into the food product inside the can. Aciditic foods like tomatoes are of particular concern when they are coupled with BPA. BPA has been shown to have multiple negative health effects. In July 2012, the FDA banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups.

Healthier canned fruit and veggie choices have been gradually expanding over the past several years.  Although levels of sugar and sodium have been reduced by some major brands, we still prefer fresh or frozen produce over most canned choices since BPA remains a concern with most major brands.

According to Harvard Medical, rinsing canned vegetables like beans for at least 90 seconds can help to reduce sodium by 40%.

Also, when choosing canned fruits and veggies, be sure to look for packaging options labeled as "BPA-Free".

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