New studies indicate that more than 52 percent of Americans today actively seek out ways to incorporate more fruits and veggies into their diet.
Even more stunning, one-third of Americans now consider themselves “flexitarians.” In other words, while they haven’t made the full leap into vegetarianism or veganism, they eat plant-based meals at least once a day.
Living and enjoying a plant-based lifestyle has never been easier. And it combats chronic health issues from obesity to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes to cancer.
That said, this increased focus on consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables has also led to new problems.
Organic, locally sourced produce can be hard to secure, which results in food waste. But there’s a better way. Read on to learn about SunLeaf’s revolutionary means of processing and preserving fresh fruits and vegetables.
The rise in locally sourced food preferences in recent years remains part of a broader focus on sustainability as well as health and well-being.
Yet, many industrial food manufacturers have found that their access to local organic produce is more difficult than ever.
From fresh spinach to strawberries, bell peppers to blueberries, thousands of pounds of produce gets thrown away each day because of wilting, rotting, and molding.
Studies have shown that individuals with the healthiest diets, both rich in veggies and fruits, also prove the most wasteful.
How big is the problem?
On average, Americans waste 150,000 tons of food each day. That’s the equivalent of one pound of food per person.
What are the most likely items to be discarded? You guessed it: fruits and vegetables.
Yet, the demand for locally sourced, organic produce continues to grow. This demand can leave food manufacturers and foodservice distributors in a food waste quandary.
No wonder food processors are continually researching new and better ways to preserve produce. And it isn’t enough to keep fruits and veggies spot-free. Preservation also means retaining optimal nutrition.
What’s one of the best ways to do this? Through proper freezing methods.
Although frozen foods have gotten a bad rap over the years, it’s important to remember this is primarily because of improper freezing techniques that leave fruits and veggies flavorless, mushy, and damaged by freezer burn.
But when it comes to frozen produce, the end product doesn’t have to be this way. That’s where IQF comes into play.
IQF stands for “individually quick frozen” and is also known as flash-freezing. Biologist Clarence Birdseye invented the process during an ice fishing trip in Canada.
Birdseye noted that every time he pulled a fish out of the water and threw it on the snow, it instantly froze. Each fish proved so perfectly preserved that some were still alive when later thawed!
In his attempt to understand what had happened, he stumbled across the importance of food freezing time. The rapidity of this freezing process became the basis for IQF.
As Birdseye learned, when something freezes quickly, it forms smaller ice crystals than when it freezes more slowly. The smaller the ice crystals, the less damage to the cells of the frozen item.
The same proves true when it comes to fruits and veggies. Flash-freezing them results in little to no damage to the fibers in the fruits and vegetables and superior frozen products.
As research into different types of freezing methods continued, scientists realized that crystals form in the temperature range from 31 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The more time food sits at this temperature range, the more destructive the ice crystals it forms.
But IQF technology accelerates how quickly produce moves through this dangerous temperature range. In other words, fish that might have taken 10 hours to freeze using conventional methods only takes 90 minutes using IQF.
More importantly, this fish only spends about 25 minutes in the 31 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit zone versus six hours with conventional freezing methods.
IQF reduces the risk of freezer damage to food items and presents a better means of food preservation. The IQF process makes a world of difference when it comes to taste and texture.
Since produce is frozen individually, it doesn’t result in clumps of mushy fruits and vegetables either. What’s more, it cuts the fresh-to-frozen time from hours down to minutes.
The result? Less time for produce to wilt, rot, or lose nutritional value.
Because of recent developments in flash-freezing food, it has also become more efficient than ever before, which translates into better per-unit prices.
Food waste represents both an inconvenience and a moral dilemma. Ironically, those attempting to craft the healthiest food often contribute to the highest levels of food waste.
This dilemma stems from significantly shorter shelf lives for organic produce. What’s more, increased demand for locally sourced food has put many food manufacturers and foodservice distributors in an awkward position.
On the one hand, they want to provide consumers with convenience and real access to the foods that they demand. On the other, minimal food preservation leads to increased food waste and an unsustainable system.
When IQF is used to secure fresh fruits and vegetables, it vastly extends their shelf lives without decreasing their nutritional value or damaging their flavor and texture.
It’s a win-win for everybody from the local farmer who grows the produce to the frozen food distributors and the end-users who get to enjoy the “fruits” of the cold chain process from field to freezer.
Are you looking for the right frozen food distributor to secure the freshest fruits and veggies? SunLeaf Foods is your source for year-round availability and convenient access to frozen fruits and vegetables.
From sourcing to warehousing to logistics, we pride ourselves on providing you with the finest in fresh, flash-frozen produce. Find out more about how SunLeaf is redefining the future of food.