Cooking Veggies: Consumer Panel Insights

April 06, 2010

Consuming a varied and balanced diet means choosing a variety of foods from the different food groups;

Consuming a varied and balanced diet means choosing a variety of foods from the different food groups; for most of us this equates to eating more vegetables at every meal. Supermarkets provide an abundance of choices: fresh vegetables in the produce section, canned and jarred in the center aisles, prewashed in the refrigerators and frozen in the freezers. With so many choices, there is no excuse for not getting at least five servings a day. conducted a Quick Poll to find out the preferred cooking method and veggie consumption habits of today’s consumer. Read on for insights from the consumer panel. 


A large majority, 86 percent of consumers surveyed reported that they are currently trying to incorporate more vegetables into their diet; a little over half of those (58%) are doing so to improve their overall diet and eat more healthfully. Clear epidemiological evidence supports the strategy (and effect) of increasing plant food consumption as a tool for primary prevention against chronic degenerative diseases, and in obtaining overall wellness.


So, where in the market do consumers grab their veggie fix? The produce section seems to take first place; fresh vegetables are the most popular choice at 64 percent, while 32 percent of shoppers choose to head to the freezers. Fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables all contribute significantly to a healthful diet and allow for a virtually constant and consistent supermarket selection year round.


When it comes to cooking, 33 percent of consumers prefer (if time permits) steaming, 22 percent enjoy baking or roasting, and 16 percent prefer to use the microwave. When pressed for time, consumers most often (32 percent) choose to steam their veggies, while 26 percent use the microwave and 16 percent head to the stove to sauté.


Consumer’s preference to steam their veggies is most likely due to the fact that the majority, 41 percent, feel this is the healthiest and maintains the majority of nutrients, while 29 percent think raw veggies are the most nutrient rich. There is an increasing awareness among consumers about how different cooking methods affect the nutrient content of their foods- and volumes of science to back this up. Cooking induces significant changes in chemical composition, reducing vitamin content, specifically vitamin C and other important bioactive compounds and enzymes. However, processing and cooking can also lead to an increase in the bioavailability- the body’s ability to assimilate vitamins, minerals and other compounds.


In the midst of all the confusing science, it’s best to encourage shoppers to eat a variety of vegetables- as the majority, according to the consumer panel, are trying to increase consumption. Whether they choose fresh, frozen or canned, consume them raw, boil, grill, steam or microwave they are sure to be adding value to their diet.