Nutritionally speaking, frozen fruits and vegetables are often superior to the “fresh” ones you find in the supermarket. On average, food travels 1,500 miles from farm to grocery, taking up to two weeks to get there. At least one study found that food can lose up to 45 percent of its nutritional value in that time. And who knows how long it has been in the store when you buy it.

This is why buying frozen fruits and vegetables makes sense. Most are processed immediately after being harvested, when they’re at their peak ripeness and most nutrient-packed. Called flash freezing, this method of preserving was pioneered in the early 20th century by Clarence Birdseye.

Yes, that Birdseye. Clarence Birdseye was a biologist who loved to cook. Once, on a scientific expedition in northern Canada, he observed how the Inuit people preserved fresh fish in barrels of sea water that were quickly frozen by the Arctic air. He concluded that the rapid freezing in the extremely low temperatures was what caused food to retain its fresh taste, texture and appearance when thawed and cooked months later.

Inspired by those native people, in 1917 Birdseye created a method for quick-freezing fresh food, and by 1930 his frozen products had taken the country by storm. Birdseye didn’t invent frozen food, but his innovative thinking launched the modern frozen food industry.

Frozen Assets

Now as then, it's tough to beat the convenience of having an array of frozen vegetables at your disposal. Having your own stockpile lets you make most recipes any time of the year. And frozen produce saves you time and money: They’re already chopped and ready to eat, and since you use only what you need, there’s no wasted food.

If you haven’t checked out the freezer section in a while, you may be amazed at what you find. In addition to the usual suspects — corn, green beans, broccoli — today you can find blended mixtures, including Chinese, Mediterranean, Indian and Thai. And the selection of fruits is truly impressive — even organic mango and raspberries! So steer your grocery cart into the deep freeze zone and stock up on some of the healthiest produce available this time of year.