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Food For Thought: Preserving Food Culture

Preserving. It’s so hot right now.

The title here, it goes both ways. We could spend several hundred words talking about the preservation of culture through food, or we could spend several hundred words discussing the culture of preserving food. But, you know, we like a healthy dose of collaboration here, so we’ve opted to discuss – wait for it – how the culture of preserving food is preserving food culture.

“The art of preserving connects people to both their food and the idea of how we used to live: eat food when it’s in season, or preserve it at its peak ripeness to enjoy the taste later when it’s no longer growing.” – Stasis Preserves

Preserving is quintessentially local. When you go back to its roots, preserving food was done to ensure local produce supplied its communities with food on a year-round basis. It was a necessary by-product of living somewhere with distinct seasonality, like Ontario, to be able to sustain through the peach-less winter.

Somewhere along the way to our modernized food processing, packaging, and distribution schemes many of us abandoned our culture of preserving food in favour of convenience. As canned vegetables became more readily available, they replaced self-canned tomatoes and beans as pantry staples. Instead of only enjoying strawberries in jam form during the fall, we could summon them from thousands of kilometres away to top our morning yogurt and granola. Making jam became leisurely, rather than necessary.

As with many things right now, nostalgia has creeped its way into society in a big, bold way. Combine that with an increasing demand for locally produced food and a strong cohort of consumers who are conscious and educated about where their food comes from, and boom – preserving is trending.

This renaissance in an interest in the culture of preserving has modernized in a way that allows us to preserve our culture…of preserving. Industry leaders like Stasis Preserves have helped bring preserving back to the mainstream, and even if it’s only increasing the number of consumers of preserves, rather than the number of preservers themselves, it’s putting the culture back in the conversation. We’re starting to remember what preserves are, and, most importantly, why we used to (have to) do it. And that, dear readers, is just the beginning of the return of preserving!

Want to learn canning and preserving for yourself?

Check out our events calendar for community events around the province. Also keep an eye out for the latest workshops from Surely Homemade in London,  The Mustard Seed in Hamilton, the West End Food Coop and Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto. If you’re super keen, in addition to running classes, Toronto’s Manning Canning rents out their space, so start planning your preserving empire now!

Rather just buy your own? 

There’s a myriad of folks making beautiful things in jars. Folks like Feast On? designee Radical Gardens in Timmins stocks preserves, and you can keep an eye out for Stasis Preserves and Manning Canning‘s products throughout the province. You can also head down to Stasis’ retail shop on Roncesvalles in Toronto to stock up on preserves and indulge in their deli and pantry offerings (think locally sourced cheese, meat, fish). We’re mildly obsessed with their Ontario Black Walnuts and Honey — they get their honey from Rosewood Estates!

Either way you do it, get into the culture of preserving!