“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
~ Rumi, The Essential Rumi
(This is a small joke:)
“you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” ~ Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
I’ve spent the last four-five weekends canning: from tomato sauce to plum-amaretto jam, passing through regular peaches, “spirited” peaches (a la brandy/rum), orange marmalade and blueberry-orange marmalade…
Last year I started preserving food by dehydrating: I played with dehydrating flowers, tomatoes, pears, apples and lots of my garden’s herbs (from basil and parsley to cilantro and oregano, rosemary, green onions and also strawberries…
I have never canned before, but I decided this would be my year: and I started with the “easy” ones…next year I’ll learn picking and pressure canning for low-acid foods…
Canning is not only easy: it is relaxing, engaging and awesomely empowering. Like cob building or serious edible gardening, it gives you a sense of being able to take care of your basic needs beyond a job and all those structures and institutions around…
As many other things we used to do as “part of life”, it has become either a hobby or something regarded as “difficult” that only those who have been initiated can do (or mentor you to do).
I wonder how much of these myths have been created by those who want to sell us “convenience” in form of processed food that tastes as they tell us something should taste:
“That’s exactly my point. Exactly. Because you have to wonder: how do the machines know what Tasty Wheat tasted like? Maybe they got it wrong. Maybe what I think Tasty Wheat tasted like actually tasted like oatmeal, or tuna fish. That makes you wonder about a lot of things. You take chicken, for example: maybe they couldn’t figure out what to make chicken taste like, which is why chicken tastes like everything.” ~ Mouse (The Matrix character)
People sometimes ask me how do I have time to can, gardening and so on…well, I don’t watch TV, I don’t enjoy chit-chatting and this are my ways to de-compress and light up when I’m exhausted from studying, working or just fed up with the state of the world…
“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”
~ Bill Mollison
This week I’m not particularly philosophical. I’ll be very practical: food is the centre of most, if not all, our challenges as species: it is both the source of many of our current problems and the main thing that is being impacted (sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly)
Think about it: how is our current food produced? What is made of? Where? Who produces it?
Industrialized and processed, deeply dependent on machinery run by fossil fuels, also dependent on fertilizers, pesticides and artificial irrigation, food has been the target of the powers that be: monopolizing the seeds through the GMO trick, making sure we have been completely transformed and dependent on corn, wheat, rice and potatoes (the four main crops that feed us all)
In order to produce food and “free” us from drudgery field labour (so we can “freely” choose a career, invest years on learning and the rest of our lives on working for others…so we can buy all the stuff that “makes us happy” and makes us debt-slaves, so we would need convenient and fast food so we can continue in this rat race)…our liberators had cut millions of hectares of healthy trees (you know, those tall things that happen to create oxygen, create rain and keep the carbon at liveable levels), depleting the soil and water through unsustainable practices, producing biodiversity loss and so on…
“On the global basis, the soil degradation is caused primarily by overgrazing (35%), agricultural activities (28%), deforestation (30%), overexplotation of land to produce fuelwood (7%), and industrialization (4%).” (and this doesn’t tell us what “deforestation” was for, but obviously was to “develop” more cities and other unsustainable practices) ~ Source: http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/land_deg/land_deg.html
If the above was not enough, food is also “traded” from one place to the other in completely twisted ways: we eat not only mangos from India and bananas from Nicaragua, we also eat apples from Chile and pears from Argentina, when we could be perfectly growing our own here in BC, Canada (and we are, but many of those travel back to other countries in a really strange way of perceiving “free market”, thanks to subsidies and regulations that allow big farmers and corporations make a better business selling their stuff far away than at home…)
Apart from destroying local markets and economies, these practices are also highly dependent on fossil fuels and, as the production of food, creating even more greenhouse emissions…(climate change)
That is already enough for us to start being anxious…but food is also causing chronic illnesses to spread and increasing the chances to suffer from rare ones, including all the mental and behavioural related health issues…we are eating either too much (sugar, carbohydrates and other unnameable things) or too little and rarely eating what would make us healthier and fitter.
On the top, GMO people are creating all kind of monsters in the name of food security and to end hunger: what they don’t tell us is how unethical, irresponsible and unsustainable their practices are, or what exactly is behind a patented seed…GMOs are not about hunger nor food security: they are about social, political and economic control: you control the food source, you control the people!
I called GMOs unethical, irresponsible and unsustainable: 1) many have not fully studied and their consequences in both people’s health and ecosystem’s health are not well known, 2) by trying to make a crop “resistant” to a pesticide, they are creating a monster and ignoring how nature works and the complexity of the interrelationships and millions of organisms involved and 3) by creating a crop that is resistant to draughts (instead of checking what is causing the draughts!) what they do is pushing the wrinkly further until it will be impossible to survive without a GMO crop and all the systems and resources it requires to “live”
Take the example of Golden Rice: they created this rice that has beta-carotene (Vitamin A, which is something rice usually doesn’t have). Vitamin A deficiency kills ~ 600,000 children around the world and increases the risk for blindness and other terrible illnesses…Vitamin A can be found (without the need of GMOs) in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, mustard greens, swiss chard, beet greens and winter squash, among other vegetables…
The problem here is wrong thinking pattern: the same that have created this unsustainable culture of us…the pattern says: there is a problem (vitamin A deficiency), there are some terrible symptoms (death, blindness, other illnesses), let’s “fix” the symptoms: let’s create a (patented) GMO that allows us to “fix” this people and win a Nobel prize while making lots of money at the same time…sounds familiar?
This would Permaculture thinking be: there is a problem (people dying and going blind due to lack of Vitamin A)…the problem is the solution (this people eat mainly rice, they do so because they don’t grow other food in their countries or their land has been stolen or destroyed by foreigners, greed “developers” and big corporations, they don’t know how to grow other stuff, nor have access to land, seeds or tools)…so what a permaculturist would do? Let’s see what’s going on, let’s help this people to get out of the oppression they have been put for centuries (or decades), and one of the best ways to get out of oppression is by producing your own food: let’s find local plants that may also provide vitamin A…there are none? (I highly doubt it!), but if there really are none, then let’s bring some seeds, tools and teach them to grow food: in containers, in small parks, anywhere…
True resilience is being responsible for ourselves and our children (Bill Mollison).
“Sitting at our back doorsteps, all we need to live a good life lies about us. Sun, wind, people, buildings, stones, sea, birds and plants surround us. Cooperation with all these things brings harmony, opposition to them brings disaster and chaos.”
~ Bill Mollison, Introduction to Permaculture
Plum Amaretto Jam
- 3 cups chopped plums
- 3 cups granulated organic sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup Amaretto liqueur
1) Combine all the ingredients (but not the Amaretto) in a large stainless steel pot or pan
2) Bring all to a boil and then reduce heat and stir for about 20 minutes. Once a gel has formed, remove from stove and stir in the liqueur.
3) Ladle into hot jars and process in canning pot for 10 minutes (boil only)
4) After letting jars to settle for five more minutes inside the pot, take them out and let them settle for about 24 hours until the lids “snap”. Label them (with month, year and type of food) and store them in a cold/dark place or in a shelve
5) Enjoy! (Makes about four 250 ml jars)
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”
~ Mother Teresa