Nutrient Loss in Vegetables After Storage
Vegetables are known for their valuable sources of health-promoting vitamins, minerals and fibre. Other than that, phytochemicals in vegetables, such as polyphenolics, carotenoids and glucosinolates also have their nutritional value needed for human well-being. Thus, vegetables are often one of the main components appeared in healthy diet as suggests by many nutritionists.
The main purpose of eating fresh vegetables is to get the nutrients essential for our health. However, most of the times we don’t really eat vegetables that are truly fresh. They might look fresh on the outside but in fact they have been stored for several days or weeks after harvest. The nutritional content of these aged vegetables is no longer at its peak just as the time they were harvested.
If we don’t get the most nutrients from vegetables because they are not fresh, why are we still eating vegetables? This misaligns with our initial purpose of eating fresh vegetables to get the most nutrients out of them for our health benefits.
How to define fresh vegetables? We’ve explained in detailed the term “fresh” and discussed the factors that decide food freshness in our previous blog.
Food Loss and Food Waste
Have you ever discarded wilted vegetables several days after you purchased them from grocery shops? Why are these leafy greens turning yellow and wilted so quickly even after you stored them in the refrigerator? This is most probably because of the transportation time taken after the vegetables were harvested. Sometimes, you will notice the imported vegetables wilt quicker than the local ones because the former was shipped thousands of kilometres away from the countries of origin.
This problem is faced by not only household consumers, many restaurants and hotels are also having the similar problem. They discard even more vegetables that are not fresh because these organisations need to provide food safe for eating and food that can fulfil the sensory experience of their customers.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), it was estimated that 32% of all food produced in the world was lost or wasted in 2009. In other words, up to one third of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people.