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Better Than Fresh: Why Frozen Food is the Future

Here at Mosaic, we love frozen food.

At first, that may sound crazy. So much of the frozen food that’s on the market today is unhealthy, unsatisfying, or filled with preservatives. And as a result, the entire frozen industry in the U.S. is stigmatized. Think about it: when was the last time you genuinely enjoyed — and felt good about — eating a frozen meal?

But when we at Mosaic started researching the details, we realized things don’t have to be that way. Frozen food — at least, the right kind of frozen food — can be tremendously beneficial for our environment, our bodies, and our lives (it can also be absolutely delicious — but that’s a story for another day 😄).

Our love of frozen — and our belief that it can change our food system, and our lives, for the better — is a big part of the reason we founded Mosaic. Here are some of the findings that motivated us in our journey to start the company — and that keep us proud to call ourselves a frozen-only company to this day.

Frozen food reduces waste

Food waste is one of the most pressing agricultural and environmental issues facing our country today — and frozen food can be a big part of the solution.

In the U.S. alone, 40 percent of food goes to waste (see Save The Food’s fantastic visual for more information on how this food is wasted, and National Geographic’s great piece on why we waste).

That’s a huge amount of waste — and it’s extremely expensive. The average American family wastes about $1500 of food every year. The cost to produce that food totals a whopping $162 billion yearly, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s cost that’s borne by both individuals and society as a whole, pushing food prices up for everyone.

"Frozen food — at least, the right kind of frozen food — can be tremendously beneficial for our environment, our bodies, and our lives."

But waste isn’t just an economic issue: it also hurts the environment. 20 percent of U.S. landfills are made up of uneaten food, making it the single largest contributor to municipal landfills. That food ends up rotting and emitting methane, a greenhouse gas, which in turn contributes to speeding up climate change. Globally, food waste is estimated to be responsible for about 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. And to make things worse, food waste is also water waste. The World Resources Institute estimates that 24% of all water used for agriculture worldwide is used to produce food that is eventually wasted.

So where does frozen fit into all of this? It turns out that freezing can help mitigate a lot of our food waste problems. Here’s how:

First, frozen food has a much longer shelf life than fresh food — so it can reduce food waste due to expiration significantly. Pop a fresh meal in your fridge, and there’s a risk that you’ll forget about it, then stumble on its moldy remains a month later. But put a frozen meal in your freezer, and you can let it sit there worry-free. At Mosaic, our meals are good for up to 12 months after production — so you don’t have to worry about them going bad unexpectedly.

Second, the frozen food production process minimizes waste. In the world of fresh food, purchasing too many ingredients or cooking too much food almost inevitably leads to perfectly-good food being thrown out. About 40% of our wasted food, as an example, comes from restaurants, which, on average, dispose of over 84% of their unused food (as opposed to recycling or donating it). But in the world of frozen food, unused ingredients and meals can be frozen rather than thrown out. This helps minimize waste in frozen production operations like ours.

"Food waste is one of the most pressing agricultural and environmental issues facing our country today — and frozen food can be a big part of the solution."

Finally, the frozen industry helps rescue “ugly” produce that would otherwise be thrown away. In whole form, misshapen or discolored fruits and vegetables are often ignored by consumers, even though they’re perfectly safe and nutritious. Shoppers’ vanity has taken a toll on the production front as well — in 2016, The Guardian reported that 25 percent of scarred crops are regularly abandoned in the field or warehouses to save on the labor and expense it would take to harvest. But frozen food producers can work around these cosmetic blemishes and incorporate these overlooked veggies into their food. At Mosaic, we pride ourselves on minimizing waste and using as much of the food we source as possible in our production process.

So if you care about food waste: put your money where your mouth is. Buying frozen allows you, grocery stores, and the entire food supply chain to waste less food. And when you eat Mosaic frozen meals, you’re saving time without sacrificing health — all while ensuring we leave the world a little better than we found it. That’s a win-win-win.

Frozen food is nutritious

Since starting Mosaic, we’ve been amazed at the amount of marketing we’ve seen from other companies advertising food that’s “never frozen”. Despite flawed logic, it’s an effective message, because for decades the meals that fill our frozen food aisles have been unhealthy.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Grocery store frozen meals aren’t bad for you because they’re frozen. They’re bad for you because they were unhealthy to begin with. If you manufacture food that’s full of artificial ingredients, chemicals, and preservatives, then freeze it, all that nasty stuff is still in there when you heat it up. On the flip side, if you take delicious, healthy food and freeze it, then defrost it — you get delicious, healthy food out the other end.

The proof: numerous studies have shown no substantive difference between the nutrient content of frozen food versus its fresh counterparts. Freezing is like pressing pause on your food’s shelf life — a completely natural preservative technique that requires no chemicals or artificial ingredients. Plus, frozen produce is often harvested at peak ripeness and frozen within hours to lock in nutrients indefinitely until it’s ready to eat.

Another part of public hesitation to eat frozen food is an unfounded fear of microwaves. Check out this Harvard Health article for more info on why microwaves are completely safe (they emit electromagnetic radiation — the same kind emitted by a regular light bulb or a radio). But it gets better: generally speaking, microwaving food actually retains more nutrients than most other methods of cooking like boiling, frying, pressure cooking or baking. That’s because food loses more nutrition the longer it’s cooked, and microwaves heat food relatively quickly. Several studies have been done on the subject, including one by the Journal of Food and Science in 2009 and a more recent meta-analysis in 2018.

So if you’re looking for nutrient-packed meals on the go — look for high-quality frozen food. It’s just as healthy as its fresh counterparts.

Frozen food is convenient

For decades, the US has been in the throes of an obesity epidemic. With almost 40 percent of Americans overweight, the US holds the dubious honor of most obese country in the world. What’s to blame? While there’s a lot of factors at play, part of the reason is our convenience-driven world — when it comes down to a choice between health or convenience, convenience nearly always comes out on top.

Just take a look at the fast food industry: in 2017, fast food chains’ growth outpaced the US economy. That’s probably because on any given day, 1 out of 3 people will eat at a fast food restaurant, where the food is laden with an excess of fat and calories, but severely lacking in nutrients.

In fact, a staggering 90 percent of Americans don’t get their recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables. We know no one wants to be unhealthy — but when fast, cheap, and filling alternatives are so readily available, it’s hard to say no. Couple that with the hectic schedules of daily life, and finding the time and money to cook nutritious, well-balanced meals on a regular basis can feel simply impossible.

Enter frozen food: while not all frozen food is created equal, with a discerning eye, a healthy meal can be just minutes away. Freezing meals you’ve already cooked can be a huge time-saver later in the week, or even months later — depending on the food, frozen can last up to a year without any change in taste or quality. Or, incorporating frozen fruits and vegetables into an existing meal is an easy way to add nutrition quickly. And there’s a growing number of health-conscious frozen meals popping up in grocery stores.

At Mosaic, we understand how hard it can be to find nutritious options that fit into your busy schedule. That’s why all of our meals, many of which are entirely plant-based, provide generous servings of vegetables. And all are 100 percent free of artificial preservatives or flavors. In this day and age, people shouldn’t have to choose between health and convenience. With the right frozen food, you can have your cake — and eat it, too.

For far too long, frozen food’s been stuck in the dark ages — that’s why we’re on a mission to shed new light on this misunderstood frontier of food and all the potential it holds. Because let’s face it: when it’s healthy, convenient, and good for the world, what’s not to love?