Friday, February 27, 2009

Food Transport: The Cold Chain

Before the advent of refrigeration and modern transportation networks, everyone ate seasonally and locally. The transcontinental shipping of fruits and vegetables didn’t exist.

Marion Nestle, in her book “What to Eat,” describes the “cold chain” that moves food across the country, especially in the winter when most of our produce is grown in California. Typically, Nestle writes, broccoli makes the following journey, lasting a week to 10 days:

“Farm, local warehouse, regional distribution center, refrigerated truck, regional distribution center at destination, another truck, local supermarket, backroom stocking area, floor, and finally, shelf.”

As I’ve previously mentioned, fruits and vegetables start to lose flavor and nutrition the instant they are removed from the ground or picked from a vine or tree.

Unfortunately, the cold chain is just one reason that supermarket produce doesn’t taste as good as food bought at a farmers market or grown at home.

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