Times of recent economic downturn are seeing renewed interest in food preservation since the “Victory Gardens” of WWI and WWII, and the 60’s and 70’s. The most popular food preservation technique is canning, followed by freezing and dehydration, and pickling and making jams and jellies.
In an effort to combat food spoilage in the early 19th century, long before the advent of refrigeration, French jam-maker Nicholas Appert systematized the process of heretically sealing food in jars and sterilizing them. Soon, canning became common in the US. Canning and food preservation make food more sustainable so that it can be eaten during other times of the year, capturing the harvest beyond the most bountiful growing months. It also reduces food waste. This adds to the economic benefit. Nutrition is another benefit that actually goes hand-in-hand with economics: lower income communities have higher rates of diabetes, obesity, and malnutrition that garden produce, whether fresh or preserved, can help combat.
Food preservation is very trendy these days, and foodies are especially keen on it. Sara Dickerman, in her slate.com article Can It: At-home preserving is ridiculously trendy, says,
[Home food preservation] is not about producing serious food for the future, and it’s not about shaking a fist at industrial food…Rather, it’s about making and sharing delicious, idiosyncratic things that are also, not insignificantly, very pretty.
This perspective on food preservation seems to come from more economic affluence, in my opinion, but is a way that food creativity can be expressed.
Speaking of shaking fists at industrial food, this isn’t to be discounted because home growing and preserving food helps reduce one’s carbon footprint. Food in refrigerated transportation travels an average of over 1500 miles to bring food to the grocery store, and loses some nutritional value and flavor in transport. (And the average grocery store vegetable is a week old on arrival and often requires preservatives.) Additionally, there’s a large amount of paper and plastic packaging to keep food fresh, or at least looking fresh, for a longer period of time. This waste is often impossible to reuse or recycle. Also, industrial farms where the food is grown are major sources of air and water pollution. These are all reasons to grow and preserve your own food, or food that’s grown locally, to not add to the problems of this industry.
If you’re new to food preservation, The National Center for Home Food Preservation has an excellent website to learn how to preserve properly and safely. http://nchfp.uga.edu/
Information from the following websites was used for this article:
Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.
Herbs and Veggies Worker