year-old Betty McGinnis and her husband raised six children on
a ranch in eastern Montana. Trips to town for groceries —
especially when the weather was harsh — were rare. Instead,
this family relied on the food they raised on their land …
true locavores before the term became popular.
son, Dean has fond memories of planting in the spring and the
smell of the wet dirt. "In summer, we’d water and watch
the vegetables and fruit grow. When they were ripe, we’d eat
them right off the trees and bushes and help Mom pick the rest
was like an assembly line. All us kids had a job but really,
she did all the work. Nothing was thrown away; all the scraps
were fed to our pigs or chickens."
the payoff? "In the winter when the wind blew and the
temperature was 25 below zero (Montana, remember) we’d sit
down to Sunday dinner of our own ranch-raised chickens, mashed
potatoes, gravy, and my mom’s canned corn. For dessert we’d
have cold fresh milk from our cows with canned Flathead
cherries (from the Flathead Lake area of Montana). And
sometimes we’d have a little fresh cream we got from the cow
canned foods as nutritious as fresh? When done right, the
canning process can lock in nutrients when a food is at its
peak of freshness, says registered dietitian nutritionist
Roberta Duyff. And due to the lack of oxygen during the
storage period, canned fruits and vegetables remain relatively
stable for up to two years.
heat sensitive nutrients such as vitamin C, can be destroyed
during the canning process. Mixing canned foods with fresh
varieties is always a good idea.
romantic as it may sound, preserving your own food is still
hard work. And it must be done right. According to the Centers
for Disease Control (CDC), "Home canning is an excellent
way to preserve garden produce and share it with family and
friends, but it can be risky or even deadly if not done
correctly and safely."
threat is botulism — a bacteria from the soil that can
produce deadly toxins if food is canned improperly. The CDC
offers these basic tips to help us safely capture nutrients
from home grown produce:
tried and true canning techniques. Reliable step by step
instructions can be found at The National Center for Home Food
Preservation, USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html
or local county extension services.
the right equipment for the kind of food your are canning.
Low-acid produce — pretty much all vegetables except
tomatoes — require the use of a pressure cooker to protect
against botulism. (Low acid is defined by the US Food and Drug
Administration as any food with a pH value higher than 4.6.)
Higher acid foods like tomatoes, most fruit and berries can be
safely preserved with boiling water canners, says the CDC.
mother always had plenty of food for us to eat," Dean
continues. "And we ate what was on the table …
.everything. I credit my excellent health to my mother. She
worked hard to feed us well with healthy food. And today, all
six of her children are healthy with no serious health issues.
tribute to locally grown and preserved. I like that.