(Exhibit at the Holzwarth Historic Site, Rocky Mountain National Park)
… it must be laundry day. Well, maybe not for you, but for me it is definitely laundry day. The washer and dryer are going, the wind and sun are drying the stuff hung on the line, and I’m trying to fit in other chores in between. I hope to get out to the garden later today to do some clean-up in the asparagus bed. We’ve had some rain over the weekend and last night which makes it a good time to pull weeds as the ground is not as hard as concrete, a condition it has been in during most of the month of August when we had very little precipitation.
I have a bone to pick before I get back to the chores.
Over the weekend I was listening to The Splendid Table, a radio show on NPR, while I was prepping tomatoes and peppers for a big pot of vegetarian chili. There was an interview with a woman, Kim O’Donnel (you can read about her in this article) who, through re-tweeting (on Twitter, of course), sparked what she called a Canvolution and Canning Across America was born. In the Mission Statement on the website, it states:
Canning Across America (CAA) is a nationwide, ad hoc collective of cooks, gardeners and food lovers committed to the revival of the lost art of “putting by” food. Our goal is to promote safe food preservation and the joys of community building through food. We believe in celebrating the bounty of local and seasonal produce and taking greater control of our food supply. Together, we can.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think this is a fabulous idea. I love it. Food preservation is a wonderful thing. You not only walk away with a sense of accomplishment but you have all of this tasty, delicious, nutritious, and locally grown food put away for the winter months. I am all for it, and if this sparks a big interest in eating locally and preserving food safely, fantastic! Kudos to all those involved.
What bothered me was when, during the interview (and I see it is also in the mission statement), Ms. O’Donnel stated they were committed to the revival of the lost art of putting by food.
Lost art?? Since when?? I have been canning (preserving, putting by) food for decades. Friends have been canning (preserving, putting by) food for decades. My mother did it. Visit Hilgert’s Farm Market when they are in full swing and you’ll find hundreds of people who preserve the harvest by canning and freezing. I suspect a visit to the midwest of the U.S. will turn up thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of people who can and freeze and dehydrate and pickle and ferment (sauerkraut is being made now) and find all kinds of ways to preserve their food. Young people, middle-aged people, old people. We’ve all been doing it or learning to do it. Last year I taught my daughter-in-law and youngest son how to can. I can’t speak for people in other parts of the country but I’m guessing there are still plenty of folks out east, down south, and out west (in other words, people all over the country) who can and freeze. People I know in Europe and Australia put by food every harvest season.
When did the art of putting by food get lost??
Perhaps it got lost in the cities or out west or, I don’t know. But it was never lost here. Those of us who live near where our food is grown, those of us who want to save some money, have long known that buying fresh food in bulk is a good way to go but only if you’re willing to do the work to preserve it in some way. A bushel of tomatoes for $16 is a great price but not if they are left to rot. Therefore, you must find a way to preserve them.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I want to wish all of those involved in Canning Across America much success in their canning endeavors and I hope it leads to more and more people buying more and more from their local farmers, or growing their own food, and safely preserving and enjoying the fruits and vegetables of their labors. I did enjoy the interview. I am so glad someone is getting the word out about “putting by” food.