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Canning, Your Public Option for Food

10/23/09 | by slowfoodsf | Farms

When thinking about an industry dominated by large corporations without true competition that relies on the myth of a self regulating market to dismiss inequity consumers face when trying to access that industry’s goods, you probably think of health care. But our food system fits the bill as well. That’s why groups like ActionAid and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy have been meeting to talk about the food reserve. A former CEO of the Corn Growers Association was a part of the discussion saying, “Our current reserve is in the hands of multinational corporations. We are one short crop away from being at the mercy of their benevolence. We need a public food option.” (To read more from this meeting head to: http://www.tradeobservatory.org/issue_foodSecurity.cfm)

Food security is a central part of food sovereignty, something Slow Food recognizes as crucial for the survival of small farmers in developing nations who are continually crushed by our surpluses (perhaps this is where our reserve could come from?). But it turns out we are also in need of food security and sovereignty. And it is likely that we need government intervention. Of course, how much of an intervention would it be when we think about the history of subsidies that led to the death of the small farm and rise of the dominant agribusiness? But there are other ways, ways that predate the newest form of Monsanto seeds.

And this is where canning comes into play. Growing up, we pickled and froze but never canned. It seems daunting. But here’s the word on the street: it’s not. That word comes from a one Diane Sigman working at UC Berkeley. She reports that you can even buy all the necessary equipment at an Ace Hardware store for a minimal price. She recommends Eugenia Bone’s simple guide, Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods. So while the issues extend beyond our kitchen, they certainly start there. As Diane describes it, the possibilities seem nearly endless and would probably make a thoughtful holiday gift.

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