The Benefit of Fresh Food Vs. Packaged Food

Common sense leads us to believe that anything with the word “fresh” in it must be better for us than anything “packaged,” but have you ever wondered why? Don’t worry if you have pondered this, you are not alone. If fact, the nation’s growing obesity problem is just one indicator of lack of awareness, in addition to the ever growing amount of food and diet related medical conditions which multiply each year.

One UCLA Study for Health Policy Research found that two thirds of California teens drink soda daily and a shocking more than half eat fast food at least once a day.

On a brighter note, it does seem that more and more people are beginning to learn the benefits of returning to whole and natural products, resulting in a growing number of people are changing the way they eat. For chiefs and “foodies” everywhere, this means that the definition of healthy cooking too is morphing as awareness increases.

Here are some terms, trends and facts that will make you want to eat healthy.

Canned Food
It makes sense that when you can something you also lock in the nutrients when you seal the lid. In fact, if you can’t go with fresh veggies some canned ones may be the next best thing. Most are packaged within a day or two of harvesting so a lot of the good stuff stays in. Of course, there are some drawbacks. Research shows that some vitamin B and essential nutrients are lost in the process and typically has a much higher sodium level than fresh veggies.

Processed Food
When foods are processed much of their nutritional value is lost and replaced with manmade and unhealthy fillers that add taste but through empty calories, sugar and carbohydrates.  Basic rule of thumb, if it comes in a box, a bag or any type of packaging and it’s not specifically from a health food or raw food store, it is probably processed.  That especially pertains to any kind of food that you get out of a drive thru window, as good as it may taste – not the best nutritional choice.

Some of the most harmful ingredients in processed foods include, high fructose corn syrup, trans fat, salt and artificial colors and sweeteners.

Raw Food Diet
While some may call it extreme, others simply call it the best choice and the raw food diet has been credited with lowering blood pressure, obesity and even the chance of developing diabetes. The raw food diet craze, sometimes called rawism, has taken hold of the nation and with good reason. Raw food refers to unprocessed, typically organically grown and uncooked produce, nuts, seeds, beans and seaweed. The belief is that cooking anything above 116°F will significantly decrease the nutrition content and kill the enzymes that are important for proper nutrition. Some followers of the diet also only consume raw dairy products, or unpasteurized, as well.

Some people adhere more strictly to the diet than others but the overall goal and belief is that more raw “live” and healthy foods means better health.  Many raw food enthusiasts refrain from eating any animal products at all, raw vegans, while others will eat unprocessed dairy products but no meat, raw vegetarians.  

Many raw food and whole food lovers also try to buy mainly organic ingredients and for good reason. Organic products are free of harsh chemicals and additives and are grown in rich, natural soil. Aside from the health benefits, the advantages to the environment are plentiful. Organic farmers conserve water as much as possible and do their part to eliminate chemical leeching into the ground.

Now that you have the facts, you can decide what role you would like fresh foods to play into your diet. Whether you choose to eat only raw foods or simply work as many as possible into your normal diet, your body will be sure to thank you.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs in the Seattle, Washington area. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit for more information.