Saturday, July 18, 2009

canning the status quo

This spring the New York Times ran an article about how younger, environmental ideologues are now practicing what was quite normal for their great-grandparents: canning seasonal foods. It has become an oddity for anyone under fifty (sixty? seventy??) to think of canning as a way of life, because typically things are always available in supermarkets.

One can always purchase an apple, peach or orange at Wal-Mart, because they are being shipped from California or South America constantly. That's what the post-world war generation has always known. In fact, I remember the first time I realized that food was regional and seasonal. My grandfather, who grew up in Eastern KY, told us that the only time he ever had oranges as a child was Christmas morning as a special gift (with perhaps a new pair of shoes). They ate wild grapes, berries, peaches, and apples later in the year. If they had more than they could eat they canned it and saved it for winter, or traded it at the local grocer for sugar or flour. Imagine that...

A Christian should always feel some tension with what it means to maintain the status quo. As Wendell Berry would point out, this must include things like how we eat. Is it possible to consciously eat contra the world? Buy it whenever you want it is a worldly mantra, however there must be something of substantial Christian value in waiting for something to be seasonal before eating it. The act of waiting and living with the seasons is enough to draw one closer to God, but also, the very act of eating responsibly gives an appreciation for God's provisions in creation.

So, my wife and I, in our efforts to be against the status quo spent a large part of our Saturday canning. Some of the produce we grew ourselves, and some we bought from farmers in our county. I like to think that somehow we're sending a message to the world that we, two 24 year olds trying to follow Jesus, are different, just one jar at a time.


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2 Ages Verging by Ryan Cordle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.