The Home Economist Issue. 1

Why Food Preservation
by Marge Braker

“The necessity of guarding against want by stocking surplus food is almost as old as human life itself.”  Laurousse Gastronomique

There was a time when home food preservation was not optional.  Our predecessors found the work of tilling, sowing, seeding and harvesting the land a time consuming business.  Outside food sources were neither available nor affordable so eating what had been grown and preserved was about survival. Time passed, technology brought modernization and many of the old traditions faded.  And while your grandmother and mine may have prided themselves on their blue ribbon jars of peaches, jam, green beans and tomatoes, the time came when local grocery stores offered commercially canned fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices.  For good or bad, the canner was relinquished to the basement to gather dust. So what accounts for the resurgence?

As in knitting and other crafts, the renewed interest in gardening and food preservation speaks of the rising popularity of the “do it yourself movement” evident across the country.  And while many families continue to preserve food at home because of rural and religious traditions, I believe modern times have offered a new imperative.

The renewed interest in gardening and food preservation reflects peoples desire to have whole and healthy foods grown in whole and healthy communities.  It reflects consumer concerns about the environmental impact of non-sustainable food systems. It reflects a desire to know where our food is coming from and what, exactly, is in the jar.   It reflects our human instincts toward preservation as more and more people consider the frailty of global food sourcing.  It reflects a movement toward urban homesteading as individuals and communities work together to achieve a greater degree of self-reliance. And, finally, it reflects a growing passion about ingredient and Portland’s passion for great food.

Whether you are an experienced preserver or a novice, a seasonal hobbyist or avid gardener geared towards self-reliance, PRESERVE will respond with food preservation classes and web-based education resources. Additionally, as PRESERVE Home Economist, I will use my skills and experience to cover a broad range of topics related to home stewardship.  Upcoming issues will cover everything from helpful techniques for home laundering to making the most of your food dollars; from pantry pests to making sense of clothing labels.  I will also introduce you to people, places and things that in one way or another further the mission of good food, healthy families and successful home management.  Remember, though we wish it could be so, one cannot live by Jam alone!