Every year, Americans spend almost $1.6 billion on pre-cooked frozen entrees that have progressed far beyond cardboard-tasting TV dinners. With the market for organic foods growing more than 20 percent annually, stores are stocking a wide variety of organic frozen foods.
According to Jen Moffroid, a spokesperson for Vermont-based American Flatbread, an all-natural pizza company, the recent popularity of organic food has had a tremendous impact on the company’s growth. “Our sales doubled from 2005 to 2006,” she says. “We are also opening a franchise in Virginia later this year.”
And what about critics who claim frozen food rebuffs the ideology of sustainable living? “The average product has to travel 1,500 miles to reach the dinner table,” says Moffroid. “We are aware of the hypocrisy of buying locally grown produce just to ship it across the country. So American Flatbread has opened regional bakeries to decrease the distance our pizzas have to travel.”
A whole host of companies are now offering pizzas with all-natural and organic ingredients. Following in the wake of our road test of frozen organic lasagna, E decided to stack up the frozen pizzas. Do all-natural ingredients really make a frozen pizza taste homemade? Here’s what we discovered:
American Flatbread’s Organic Tomato Sauce and Three Cheese
Taste: Definitely the best of the group. The sauce and cheese are delicious and the flatbread crust is amazing. But if you are a traditional pizza fan, this may be a little too bread-like for you.
Convenience: 10-20 minutes to thaw and 5-7 minutes to bake.
Nutrition: 360 calories, 13 grams of fat, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 17 grams of protein.
Eco-Credentials: Made with organic and all-natural ingredients; the pizzas are baked in a wood-fired earthen oven.
Availabilty: Wild Oats, Whole Foods Market and most other health food stores.
Trader Giotto’s Organic 3 Cheese Pizza
Taste: The pizza has a crispy, thin crust and a nice amount of cheese. But some E staffers found the crust “too heavy.”
Convenience: 7-8 minutes from freezer to table.
Nutrition: 270 calories, 10 grams of fat, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of protein.
Eco-Credentials: All organic ingredients, but the pizza is not certified by the federal Department of Agriculture because it’s imported from Italy.
Availability: Exclusively at Trader Joe”s.
Frontera’s Four Cheese Pizza with Fresh Vine-Ripened Tomatoes and Cilantro
Taste: Frontera’s stone-fired pizza is the cheesiest of the bunch and the Mexican-inspired “fire-roasted” tomato sauce adds a zesty flavor.
Convenience: 17-21 minutes from freezer to table.
Nutrition: 310 calories, 10 grams of fat, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of protein.
Eco-Credentials: All natural ingredients and a distinctive “Mexican” flavor.
Availability: Wild Oats and Whole Foods Market.
Wild Oats California Style Tomato with Pesto Pizza
Taste: The fresh garlic pesto and the sun-dried tomatoes are delicious, and if you like thick, chewy crust, this is the pizza for you.
Convenience: 10-14 minutes from freezer to table.
Nutrition: 330 calories, 13 grams of fat, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of protein.Eco-Credentials: All Wild Oats brands are made with all-natural ingredients.
Availabilty: Exclusively at Wild Oats.
Amy’s Organic Soy Cheese Pizza
Taste: The sauce and crust are tasty, and the soy cheese offers a very good approximation of the real thing. But E staffers agree that the pizza needs more cheese.
Convenience: 14-26 minutes from freezer to table.
Nutrition: 290 calories, 11 grams of fat, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of protein.
Eco-Credentials: All Amy’s Kitchen products are made from organic ingredients and the company does not use any genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This pizza is also lactose-free.
Availability: All major grocery stores.
Pizza comes down to individual taste. If you enjoy a flat, crispy crust, Trader Giotto’s Organic Three Cheese Pizza has the thinnest available. If sauce is the determining factor, American Flatbread’s Organic Tomato Sauce and Three-Cheese Pizza has the best sauce of the group. Amy’s Organic Soy Cheese Pizza is a close second. For lovers of thick, chewy crust, Wild Oats” California Style Tomato with Pesto Pizza is the winner. The overall best frozen organic pizza, according to the gourmands at E, is made by American Flatbread.