Monday, July 11, 2005


So far this year I have frozen strawberries (from the pick-your-own nearby farm, not ours), frozen broccoli, and canned pickles. Normally I freeze (corn, beans, basil, parsley), can (pickles, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice, applesauce, pickle beans), and dehydrate (tomatoes, jerky, onions). Carrots, onions, potatoes, cabbage, and squash will keep “as is” a long time in a moderately cool place (the barn or the basement).

After the broccoli ripened the end of June, too early for the Farmers’ Market, D brought three large crates of it to the kitchen. I spent an evening cleaning, blanching (holding briefly in boiling water), cooling, and packing it into freezer bags. (You’re supposed to blanch it to kill the growing enzymes. As a test, this year I froze some that had skipped the blanch, just to see how the quality ends up. If I can avoid filling the kitchen with steam on a hot summer day, so much the better.)

I ended up with about 20 bags of vegetables for about three hours work. Is it worth it? Looked at strictly on an economic basis, probably not--although it's not as though I could have been getting paid for that time instead. I look at it with some additional perspectives: 1) it teaches the kids about self-sufficiency (not all food comes from the store); 2) it disciplines me to master preserving techniques; 3) it really does taste better; 4) I feel “rich” knowing I have a house full of food; 5) it honors my mom's experiences and values; and 6) I enjoy it.

We’re not like the Mormons, who I believe are supposed to keep at least a year’s worth of food stored for their family in case of disaster. We’re not like the Y2K fanatics who squirreled away flour, beans, and MREs in secret bunkers. But, in case of some horrible event, we could do a better job than most families of feeding ourselves. I could feed us for a long time on the contents of my pantry and freezer (sadly, that does take power which might not exist, depending on the crisis).

Wendell Berry writes:
A nation determined to defend itself and its freedoms should be prepared, and
always preparing, to live from its own resources and from the work and the
skills of its own people.

So, by preserving my own food, I’m contributing to national security.


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