Food preservation: a trend making a comeback – October 2012

It always fascinates me how some things come and go. 

Fashion trends come and go.  I’m sure there are some folks who are saving their old clothes with the idea that at some point fashion trends would change and what was old will become new again.  My wife finally convinced me that some of my old clothes were not coming back into fashion and the folks at the second hand store would be happy to take them out of our closet.

One of the trends many from my generation saw fade was food preservation.  This is a trend that now has renewed interest and is making a comeback.  Stores that you used to walk into and search for hours to find home canning supplies now display them up front.  Ads in newspapers now feature the various accoutrements necessary to lift hot jars out of boiling water.

Local extension programs now talk about growing and preserving your own food.  When I first started with Farm Bureau, many of the ladies involved in our organization would discuss the trend that no one was interested any more in those trades that extension home economists taught.  Conversations back then lamented the fact that young folks didn’t have the time to do all this “canning” stuff and that convenience and prepared foods were what the consumer wanted.  Microwave ovens became the main cooking appliance and food companies touted meals that tasted just like mom made that could be heated in the microwave and put on the plate in 10 minutes.

Canning, pickling, freezing and jelly making soon after were looked at like conjurers with their steaming pots, magical ingredients, and then the ingredients from the garden that were added according to a careful formula passed down from one generation to the next.

Now the Food Network has programs on how to make your own sauerkraut and pickles in ceramic crocks.  We are starting to hear conversations about the best jars to use again and Mason jars are mentioned in more than country and western songs.

Whether this will be a lasting trend or not remains to be seen.  Will we soon see the displays disappear from the front of stores back to bottom shelves in the back?  If so, at least some folks will have learned or relearned processes that our folks knew how to do.  And the amazing thing about our folk’s generation was they could do it all without having to resort to Google or texting the extension service.

By Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President

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