Posts Tagged ‘food preservation’

Our Grandparents Knew Better

My friend Jeremy shared this great article today from Planet Green titled, 5 Essential Green Living Skills. As we sit down tomorrow to give thanks for all that we have, the 5 points in the article ring true for me around how we can continue to improve both our health, planet and comminuty in the coming year. The article frames 5 skills through how our grandparents lived and in my family this couldn’t have been more true. My grandmother used to sew all my mother’s dresses, used powdered milk until the day she passed and cooked everything from scratch (with the exception of frozen peas!) The article notes:

1. Organic Gardening: Planting a kitchen garden or Victory Garden was an essential skill for supplying fresh food with high nutritional value at a low cost. And they didn’t choose to grow organically, as that was how everyone gardened. For those without much space, a community garden is a great alternative, or for city-dwellers, try a fire-escape garden, like Mike in NYC.

2. Food Preservation
: Many people used to can or dry the produce from their garden to ensure their winter food supply, or they had a cold storage area to keep root vegetables, winter squash, and fruits like apples through the fall and winter. Local Ag Extension offices and Master Gardeners can help you find classes about canning food safely.

3. Seed Saving
: Saving garden seeds for next year’s planting was an important task in the past, and seeds of the heirloom varieties of vegetables they grew were like money in the bank. With cheap garden seeds widely available, and the advent of highly hybridized varieties, it isn’t as popular anymore, but you can learn how to save seeds pretty quickly.

4. Cooking from Scratch
: Buying pre-made packaged foods wasn’t affordable for most folks, and the variety available in stores was much less then it is now. Starting a meal with basic ingredients was a normal part of life back then, but sadly, many of us are not able to make a meal without it coming out of a box or a can. Baking your own sourdough bread is a great skill to have, and homemade bread can be made for a fraction of the price of store-bought bread.

5. Sewing: Patching old clothes and sewing your own clothing was an essential skill for those living on a low budget, but it’s rare nowadays to find someone who still knows how to do that. For parents, knowing how to take in clothes for younger kids, or patch the knees of pants can save quite a bit of money and resources. Our grandparents also knew how to darn socks, and I have yet to meet someone who still knows how to do that.

Happy Thanksgiving all!