We had heard that March was National Nutrition Month, which is great news for Jolly Tomato, but it wasn’t until we opened the colorful advertising circulars in the Sunday paper that we realized it was National Frozen Food Month as well. We found ourselves oddly mesmerized by the picture of the family happily digging into what looks like a freshly roasted chicken on a bed of rosemary, along with carrots, zucchini, some sort of biscuit, and white wine for the adults, along with orange juice for the children. (Quick quiz: which among these items were at one time frozen?)
Intrigued, we headed on over to the web site for the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association, and its companion site for consumers, EasyHomeMeals.com. And because we’re suckers for any kind of numbered list, we went straight to “12 Reasons Why Frozen Foods are Best for Your Household.”
You probably think this is leading up to some sort of sarcastic screed about how frozen food is so bad, and we’ll get to that, but for the moment, we’re kind of down with their reasoning on why frozen foods rule. Flash-frozen vegetables, and in some cases fruits, are sometimes much better (and a better value) than what you can find fresh in the supermarket. At the Jolly Tomato house, for instance, frozen peas are a staple food item. One time we made the mistake of buying canned peas and we couldn’t even make it past the first mushy pea-green excuse for a pea. Frozen blueberries are a godsend when you’re trying to make pancakes on some cold mid-winter morning. Frozen corn is great for adding to chilis or pot pies, and we love us some good frozen string beans too. When we’re feeding them to the kids, we just take a small amount out of the freezer, cook what we need, and save the rest for later without worrying about it going bad. So yes, we agree with you, NFRFA, frozen food = good.
But then, hey, wait a minute: What are we advertising here? Below the rosy picture in the Sunday circular they are trying to sell chicken and cheese taquitos, pepperoni pizza, Salisbury steaks, toaster pastries, and some sort of product called SideShots that we don’t quite understand. Now where do these products fit into the “taste, nutrition, and value” matrix that we were so high on a few minutes ago? These heavily processed foods won’t do much to help boost your family’s nutritional intake, and they’re about as far from “fresh” as just about any meal product we can think of.
So, thanks for the insights, NFRFA. We’re all for any kind of campaign that resolves to do something like “Bringing Families Together” over home meals. In fact, we’ll be glad to bring the Jolly Tomato family together over peas, asparagus, beans, corn, broccoli, blueberries, and pineapple chunks. But beyond frozen fruits, vegetables, and the occasional frozen waffle, the work is up to you, NFRFA. We just don’t really see bringing the family together to celebrate anything that might be stuffed inside a “Hot Pocket.”