Every fall farmers across North America prepare for one of the most important times of the year in the food industry. The harvest season means picking and packing fruits and vegetables within hours of being harvested in the field, ensuring quality nutrition and taste. Here are some interesting facts about the canning process and the nutritional benefits of canned food:
- Nutritionally speaking, canned food is comparable to its cooked fresh and frozen counterparts.
- Canned fruits and vegetables are packed at their peak of harvest, which means they are packed at their peak nutrient value.
- Crops that go directly from the field to the processor often retain vitamins better than those that travel hundreds of miles across the country and sit for days in produce bins.
- Canners use only top-quality ingredients, which are picked, packed and canned within hours.
- No preservatives are necessary in the canning process and many canned foods are available in low- and no-sodium varieties.
Benefits of Canning
- The canning process was developed to preserve food safely and for an extended period of time.
- Virtually any food that is harvested or processed can be found in a can.
- Most fruit and vegetable canning facilities are located within a few miles from the point of harvest and meats, soups and stews are canned within the facilities in which they are prepared.
- Every food can is hermetically sealed, which prevents contamination.
- Providing the can remains sealed and not damaged, the food maintains its nutrition and flavor for more than two years.
- Canned food allows seasonal favorites to be enjoyed year round.
- According to a 1997 University of Illinois study, the canning process actually may help to enhance the nutrient profile of certain foods.
- Canned pumpkin contains 540 percent of the Recommended Daily Intake of vitamin A, while the same amount of fresh pumpkin has only 26 percent.
- Foods like canned beans have higher fiber content and are excellent sources of protein and iron.
- Canned tomatoes contain significantly higher quantities of the essential phytochemical lycopene than fresh.