You may recall I mentioned recently that I’m starting a local cooking school focused on food preservation, and I wanted to share why I made the decision to take the leap and do it. There are a few reasons actually – I love food and cooking first and foremost. Cooking and preserving for my family are things I genuinely enjoy doing, and I want to share that passion with others. The second reason is that local food is incredibly important, and that’s what I’d like to talk a little about.
According to CMAP, a governmental organization, only six percent of the food we consume in the state of Illinois is actually grown here. Just six percent! That means that we’re shipping in an awful lot of food from further afield. While long distance and global trade certainly has it’s place (tea and olive oil spring to mind for me personally) I find it unsettling that most of our food comes from far away. It takes a lot of fossil fuels to move that much food around, and the supply chain is incredibly vulnerable to disruption (especially weather related events). It also decentralizes local economy, which means less dollars stay in the community and get directly into the hands of the farmers growing the food. All of those things are important, so when we can make the decision to grow, purchase and consume food that comes from our local area it makes a big impact in our community.
Since we live in a four-season climate, we’re also not able to grow most foods year round (though a lot can be done with cold weather gardening techniques). We’ve basically got to make hay while the sun shines, which means preserving things for other seasons when we’re talking about food. That’s where Preservation School comes in. If you’ve never practiced food preservation before, it can be really daunting to figure out how to get started, and make sure that you know how to make safe, quality products for your family to enjoy. You might also think it’s really expensive to get started, but it doesn’t have to be. Like any other hobby or skill, you can spend money to the moon and back if you really want to. But setting up to do small batch canning you really can do for under $20! I want to make sure everyone knows what’s possible, and how to do it. And it’s fun! If you like being in the kitchen and enjoy cooking, food preservation is a great growth skill to learn – think of being able to serve your own home made salsa on Taco Tuesday, and design your own customized salad dressings with oil and vinegar you flavored yourself. You just can’t beat that.
If you’d like to learn more please check out the Preservation School website. I’m running a GoFundMe campaign as well, to raise $1,000 toward the start up costs for getting this school off the ground. Please consider sharing my campaign and making a contribution – community endeavors are only successful when we support each other and put action into our ideals.