Consuming Local Spurs Revival in Arts of Food Conservation

The growth in the whole ‘eat local’ motion is stimulating a revival of another standard food practice: the art of food conservation, referred to as canning. With all that fresh regional food becoming available in more cities and towns, it provides a solution to something you might call, ‘an excellent issue to have;’ exactly what to do with all that fresh food? Robbie Harris reports. At the Mount Pleasant Fellowship Hall in Wytheville, is a table groaning with glass mason jars filled with intense colored salsas, pickles and jams, meats, chow chows and more – the majority of them made by individuals who took canning classes last summertime from Sandy Stoneman, the Food Safety Extension Agent for six south western Virginia counties.

“In every community, there’s farmers markets,” Stoneman Says. “So we see this growing and progressing in availability of produce just for the typical person who might not have a big garden but they want to put up salsa. They can go and purchase all those components wholesale at the farmers market from local growers and know where it came from.”

This latest resurgence of interest in canning and food conservation can be traced to the monetary crisis of 2008, when individuals were looking for ways to take control of their own nourishment and that of their communities. Stoneman says there’s something congenial about canned products, too. “There’s something really good about being able to give a canned excellent to someone who might need it, or a next-door neighbor, who’s sick. You can bring them a jar they need is to heat up your jar of soup.” Yes, it’s most often a container, not a can. Since what we describe as canning, is a process of using heat to form a seal on that jar to keep microorganisms out. Some trace the name to the word ‘canister’ for the glass cylinders also referred to as mason containers.

Eva Morrison is among individuals who came here to share their food and their stories about canning. She tells the group of canners put together, “My mother didn’t can due to the fact that she worked all of her life and she constantly had an outdoors job however I got some of the old ‘Ball Blue Book’ Depression-era canning books, and taught myself ways to can tomatoes and make jelly and it’s simply that noise of the popping cover that sound of success it simply does something for you.”

That sound of the jar is not only pleasing, it’s essential to the safety of keeping fresh food And like Morrison, many people there in the Fellowship Hall that night said they participated in classes on canning not just to find out the most recent strategies for maintaining food safely, however also due to the fact that it wasn’t something they gained from their moms and dads in your home. Danille Christensen is folklorist and assistant teacher in the Department of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech. She’s writing a book about the meaning of canning in American culture.

“I would state that almost any cultural practice that has a historical precedent avoids a generation so the instant (next) generation might not wish to do exactly what their moms and dads did due to the fact that it’s a chore,” she states. “However then the third generation has the ability to see it as sort of a skill. So it’s the idea that it’s part of their heritage, so there’s a reclamation.”

Christensen traced the practice of canning back to home kitchen areas the late 17th century long prior to it was scaled up for industrial industry in the early 19th. She suggests renewed interest in your home canning, might end up being a home industry or a breakfast cafe and help revive local economies. Christensen adds, “I think there’s a resurgence in food conservation in general. As well as in post coal economies, how do we develop resources in the area that can help individuals be self-sufficient but also produce surpluses?”

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