Lessons from Canning
The 2nd batch of whole tomatoes was processing. The room was steadily getting warmer as the boiling water continued to rage on. My sister had recently walked in with my two little nieces. I had been on my feet since nearly 9 am and my feet were starting to feel the pain. I decided to sit down and review my emails and take the time to post a few photos on Instagram about our canning day progress. When I looked up, I realized that every person in the room was on some electronic device. The kids were on iPads, my sister and mom were on the computer and I was using my iPhone.
At that same time my sister looked up, and said “Well this is sad.” I laughed and then realized something special. This is the new generation. A mix of being totally plugged into the electronic world and yet somehow staying connected to our roots. We live in a world where we straddle being consciously connected to the earth, to our food and also technologically sound and savvy. Bizzare.
Through that process of canning, I learned (or at least was reminded of) several great lessons:
Conscious Eating Takes Time: I thought I would be done by around 3 or 4pm, but low and behold I wasn’t finished until about 10pm. My mom was frustrated throughout the day because everything was taking much longer than expected. I kept reassuring her that it was a labor of love. Choosing local for the future requires planning, and conscious living takes time. It’s not instant, but the gratification will continue all winter long.
Kids Can Teach Their Parents: In a nostalgic world, wouldn’t it be nice if our mothers and grandmothers were the experts in canning and every year we all got together to preserve the harvest. Well, not in my family. My mom grew up in a time when convenience food was exciting and the way of the future. I loved being able to teach my mom how to can and the importance of sourcing local. We slowed down and created a new tradition.
Children Get It: When my 7 year old niece Libby walked in the kitchen she was immediately enthralled. “Whatcha doing?” she asked. I told her we were canning and saving up food so we could eat summer tomatoes all winter long. “Oh, so you’re like the squirrels who store their nuts. Are you going to bury them too?” she laughed. To her, all creatures did that. We went on to play a game of What’s in Season, where I named a fruit or vegetable and she had to guess which season it grew in. A perfect time to bond together and teach.
Overall, it was a day of hard work. A few burns from boiling water and 72 jars later – we had created something more than just canned tomatoes. We had created a memory, an experience for everyone that walked in the door, and a new tradition of being more mindful about the way we consume.