"The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me?" ~ Ayn Rand, "The Fountainhead"

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Food preservation for self-reliance, part 1

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for the January, 2012 issue of the Owl Creek Gazette, placed here with their permission.  For more great articles you can read the latest and all archived monthly editions of the Owl Creek Gazette online!

Food Preservation for Self-Reliance
Part one of a series
By: Roxanne Bare

With the January Issue of the Owl Creek Gazette, focusing on acquiring new skills and practices which promote self-reliance, I found myself thinking, “What could be more self-reliant than preserving your own food, whether it was grown in your own backyard or purchased at a local farmers market?”  And with that thought came the inspiration for this 5 part series on food preservation.

Food picked at its peak and prepared or preserved right away will give you the highest quality food and more nutrition for yourself and your family.   January may seem like an odd time to talk about fresh produce, gardening and food preservation but now is the perfect time to plan ahead for our food needs.  Soon the seed catalogs will be hitting the mailbox and some department stores will be stocking supplies for gardening and food preservation.
When you go to your grocery store you are normally looking for two things; food that will nourish and money savings.  However, what you often find in the grocery store is pale colored, limp produce and continuously rising prices.  Did you know that each food item in a typical U.S meal has traveled an average of 1500 miles?  Produce is usually picked well in advance of actually being ripe, packed and shipped hundreds and thousands of miles so that we can have something that resembles fresh produce out of season.  Consider the thing they call a tomato in the grocery stores and restaurants right now.  My husband and I call them fake tomatoes because they do not resemble that luscious burst of rich tomato flavor when picked and eaten right out of the garden in August.  Also, consider the amount of fossil fuels required to bring that food from places such as Chile and Argentina in February.  Much of the rising costs of foods in retail are directly related to the rising price of oil and oil based products. 

You do have a couple of options when it comes to being less dependent on that food that traveled from the opposite side of the planet.  First, grow some of your own food in your own backyard and second, preserve some of your food when it is actually in-season locally.   There is a growing movement in our country towards eating locally and in season.   There are health benefits to eating in this manner as well as conserving fossil fuels which, in turn, benefits our environment and our pocket books. 

Here are my top three reasons to encourage home food preservation:
1.        Foods processed at the peak of their freshness will give you superior nutritive qualities and health benefits.
2.       Foods grown in your own garden in healthy soil or even locally grown and sold at farmers markets will have more nutrients and will have less loss of vitamins and minerals without the long shipping times.
3.       You can have more control over the purity of your food by choosing food that has been grown without dangerous chemicals or at the very least minimal chemical usage.  Furthermore, you decide if and how much sugar, salt and additives to use. You also can have control over the method in which the food is processed, each method having its pros and cons. 

Never preserved food at home?  Really, it isn’t hard and there are numerous resources to guide you. In this series, I will be making some suggestions for excellent sources of information.  There are books and websites full of information.  This series will also give you the very basic information on how to preserve food at home by different methods including canning, freezing, dehydrating, and pickling and how to prevent food borne illness in the process, remembering food safety is paramount in the endeavor of food preservation for self-reliance.

Bio:  Roxanne Bare has an array of technical and practical experience in teaching basic food safety, nutrition and budgeting as a result of her combined time spent as a coordinator and instructor of the Family Nutrition Program (at the county level) for the University of Illinois Extension Service and with her training as a Master Food Preserver also through the University of Illinois Extension Service.
Roxanne has earned the Diploma of Holistic Health Practice with Honors from the American College of Health Sciences with certificates in Flower Essences; Nutrition, Body Care and Herbalism;  Holistic Structure and Function of the Human Body; Natural Health Consulting; and Holistic Pathology and Protocols and is the owner of Terra Mater, an herbal and aromatherapy product business.  Readers can find her at www.terramatermarket.com and here on the pages of the Owl Creek Gazette writing her 5 part series on Food Preservation for Self-Reliance.

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