Interesting little article in the BBC’s food programme blog about frozen food written by Simon Parkes. I have had and still have a mixed relationship with frozen food. Generally speaking I find it a false economy because the quality of frozen product in this country is so woefully low. We have an allotment and the freezer comes in handy for freezing over production, but because we cannot employ the blast freeze techniques of the manufacturers the result is disappointing and what was a wonderful bean when fresh, is a limp, structureless thing when thawed out.
Some things have improved over the years – most notably the freezers them selves. Apart from freezing a little quicker, they are also cheaper to run because of much improved insulation. Though be warned, they still cost considerably more to run than a refrigerator. And that insulation has brought its own downside – when we changed an ancient small freezer for a new one last year we were horrified how little space there was in the new one for the walls of the box were five times the thickness.
Simon Parkes does make one strange comment. “And secondly, it helps reduce waste (there’s nothing to trim off and throw away and you only take out of the freezer the amount you need)”. I am not sure how he works this out. Somewhere in the manufacturing process the veg had to be trimmed – probably by machine that often cuts off more than is required. That waste was generated anyway – just not at home. Also, most food waste is from cooking more than we eat and cheap food actually encourages that, especially if it is sold in portions size which many frozen products are.
As Simon points out, the French buy more frozen food than we do. However, the comparison is rather odd because in France the quality of frozen food is often much higher than ours – it is not seen as a cheap alternative but of a way of accessing food and storing food that you cannot get in your region so easily. I do likewise when I buy giant prawns from a local Chinese catering shop, or soft shelled crabs. But lets face it, these are hardly a cheap option!
Overall, we would save more money and eat better if we were more organised at home and cooked sensible sized meals. Frezers use a huge amount of electricity and are yet another item that is difficult to dispose of and far from saving waste, encourages it. And in the UK at least, they reinforce the idea that eating is something you just do because you have to rather than a special moment in the day.
So, do we need them? Have a small one for your peas and the odd luxury, and get the rest fresh from a market.