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Home Canning: Drudgery or Creative Outlet?

I stumbled upon an old article on home canning in Slate Magazine the other day by Sarah Dickerman. The article came out last year and the first half pretty much sums up home canning’s history and its resurgence in our new, thriftier and greener lifestyles.  It was all very interesting…until she made a few comments and observations that clearly showed that she just doesn’t “get it”.

First, she states that canning is hard work (I think her exact words were “serious drudgery”) and that it is far from being cost-efficient. But where she really misses the mark is when she says, canning is

“NOT about producing serious food for the future, and its NOT about shaking a fist at industrial food…Rather, its about making and sharing delicious, idiosyncratic things that are also…very pretty.”

Ummm…really? That’s all it is?  Sharing pretty and delicious things?

You know, it would be easy to get all worked up about her words (she goes on and on), but she is just not on the same page as us.

I do not consider canning/preserving drudgery. Far from it! Just as a real home-cooked meal can be an art form, so too is canning and preserving. It is a creative outlet. I’ll admit that I love to share my canned goods with others because by doing so, I am sharing a little piece of my garden. But I preserve the harvest for so many more reasons that that! I can for the flavor, for the knowledge of what is in my food and for the fun of creating condiments that you can’t find in the supermarket.

And I’m sorry, but you CAN produce serious food for the future with canning. That is the whole point! Well okay…it is only part of the point.

People also can because putting up a jar of organically-grown beats, corn or even jam is the best way to be assured of what is in your food. Have you read the labels on your pantry items lately?  Can you tell from reading them if there are GMO foods in there? Can you really compare a can of stewed tomatoes with the flavors of home canned tomatoes grown in the backyard? No.

Industrialized food does not hold a candle to home-canned food in nutrition or flavor. So, yes – I do feel that home canners can shake their fist at industrialized food. Home canners are making a difference in their lives and health by avoiding industrialized food as much as possible. – and for that, I thank them.

Can on Baby… Can on! And let’s have a jar swap!

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.