Monday, January 4, 2010

I like canned food!

The other night I admitted something in conversation that kind of surprised me. We were discussing organic certification and food miles when I said "I like canned food!". I wasn't just espousing an intellectual value, and it's wasn't a retro thing or some attachment from childhood or a reaction against trendy packaged pasta sauces or vege stock in a sachet. It's not a 'warholesque' visual thing either. I was expressing a kind of 'romantic' aesthetic sense about canned goods.
What informs this aesthetic sense? It's the integrity of the design of the product, that it achieves it purpose humbly and consistently in a way that is unmatched. It's the idea that towns have grown around canneries and that many canneries grew from farmers cooperatives. It's that canneries are such a poignant example of value adding technology, like smoking fish it is preserving but with industrial age technology.
When human societies developed food preserving techniques they were able to take greater advantage of abundance and survive the hard times. Pickles, preserves, brewing of alcoholic beverages, smoking and drying all played a significant part in the growth of civilisation. These are important food technologies that we will need to appreciate and be knowledgeable about in the coming dark age.

I'm a bit of a stickler for cooking food from scratch. I have been cooking dried beans from scratch for a long time and feel that I have finally able to make them as tender and delicious as canned or fresh beans. I like dried beans because they are convenient, and they store well and keep for a long time but I have learned that it takes a lot of water to soak, boil, rinse, and cool dried beans.
In the age of warlords we will be thankful for canned beans. I'm certain that access to water will be severely limited for most of us in 'The West'. Canned food in general will reduce our need for water use in the kitchen as the hard work has already been done.
We have become accustomed to free flowing potable water straight from the tap anytime. Unlike many places in the developing world we don't spend a large portion of our time just getting access to water. But as society crumbles and the infrastructure that delivers our water to us in such a convenient way becomes impossible to maintain we will have to adapt!

Check out this site it has great tips for reducing water consumption in the kitchen and elsewhere. Now is probably a good time to start practicing some of these methods. It also may be a good time to pick up a good second hand pressure cooker.

1 comment:

  1. In the future, I wonder whether the infrastructure to actually 'can' the foods (is that a correct use of the verb) will exist, so i suspect that we may HAVE to rely on dried beans....

    But on the topic of nostalgia, I also am a big fan of canned foods. However, my feeling connects more to the countless number of times when you haven't had fresh vegetables in your house to cook a meal, and have had to dig into the depths of your cupboard or pantry - only to find a tin of chick peas or even better corn kernels (yum!) - thus drastically improving the potential for the meal!

    Maybe we could call those 'tins of salvation'?