One of my favorite times of year is canning season. I’ve written before of the barter between gardeners: one trades corn for okra while another swaps tomatoes for peppers. And everyone tries to unload their extra zucchini.
Once we have a good pile of veggies or fruit, then it’s time to figure out what to do with them. We can’t eat everything we grow as it comes in, so we freeze, process, and can the rest. And that’s when the real fun begins…
In Greek mythology Dionysius was the go-to guy for hedonistic pleasure. His followers embraced using all of the senses to appreciate the world. Gardening and canning appeals to me in that five-fold way. The look and feel of freshly picked tomatoes or other veggies, the taste and smell of figs or pears boiling down to preserves, the sound of the ping! as the canning jars’ lids announce their readiness.
Even though we use modern kitchen appliances, we’re continuing a millennia-old tradition of storing up food for the winter. There’s something in our deepest hind brain that recognizes the value and necessity of this tradition. Sure we could just go to the store and buy corporate-processed foodstuffs in January but it’s far more satisfying to open a jar of last July’s pickles.
This is one of the many things that sets rural people apart from city folk. The adage that no city is more than three days from starvation seems ever more true in today’s crime-ridden urban society. But the contrast isn’t just geographic. I believe it to be generational as well.
How many people under 30 do you know that could manage to feed themselves without a Starbucks or Publix nearby? The current fashion of entitlement and permanent outrage has left those born after about 1990 with few tools to process the real world, much less survive in it.
If more young people learned what it takes to grow, pick, and prepare food themselves, who knows how many other practical skills they might pick up?