Monday, June 18, 2012

The Top Ten Dangers of Home-Raised, Home-ProcessedFood

 Articles abound on the dangers of food we buy in stores and restaurants.There are even occasional warnings about food poisoning in home-cooked meals. I've yet to see a discussion of the most common dangers of raising and cooking your own food. In random order, here's my list:

1. You get really dirty. Also hot and tired raising a garden. Magazine photos of well-groomed people with a hoe and basket standing in their garden are posed pictures, people. Who looks like that when they're hoeing and hilling potatoes, or planting tomatoes? No one, that's who.

2. Homegrown broccoli is delicious, dark green and full of flavor. Be prepared for the occasional surprise protein, though: cabbage moths lay eggs that hatch little worms that hide in the dense heads of broccoli. You can usually find these while cleaning the flowerets prior to cooking, but every now and then one sneaks past. Just sayin', be prepared.

3. Your beautiful red and green leaf lettuce will keep you supplied for weeks with fresh salads. The downside? You must wash each and every leaf because those slimy critters called slugs like to hide out in your lettuce patch. You probably already wash store lettuce anyway, but the homegrown may have dirt, spiderwebs and the occasional slippery hanger-on. A plastic net onion bag is great for spinning the lettuce out to dry, by the way.

4. Turtles like tomatoes, did you know? You might have a lovely heritage variety plant with a big one ripening, but when you go to pick it, the turtle has been there before and taken big bites from the underside. Blossom-end rot might also give you a nasty surprise when you pick your beauty; its damage is also usually hidden from top view.

5. Your kitchen looks like a farmer's market gone awry by late July. Baskets of over-ripe tomatoes, corn needing to be shucked, bushels of green beans, and buckets of cucumbers await you daily. The chickens even get picky about what excess produce they'll eat.


6. Stuff. You need a lot of stuff to prepare your food. Bowls, pans, huge pots, strainers, ladles, jars and lids and more are necessary for the canning, drying and freezing tasks.

7. Space for all that stuff. Where are you going to put it? A cellar is a fine thing to have; a freezer is a given. You also need storage for the empty jars, the idle tubs and pans and so on.

8. Explosions. Oh yeah. Tomatoes sometimes go bad in the jar, and blow the lids off. Amazingly horrific smell.  Other stuff can go bad in the jars too. So far nothing's exploded in the freezer except a bag of frozen grape juice. Lovely frozen purple everywhere.

9. Dishes--cooking makes a LOT of dirty dishes. This morning I froze some broccoli and made a batch of jam. Pans, ladles, strainers, spoon rest, bowls, knives, etc filled the sink completely and overflowed by the time I was finished.You will wash jars until you really are sick of them. A dishwasher is a huge bonus in the summer, but for those of us who opt not to have one, we're the Dishpan Hands Gang.

10. WARNING: Growing and processing your own food can become an Addiction with a capital A. You start thinking about what else you can put up. You scan roadsides and woodlands for berries, nuts and wild fruits. You start reading up on wild greens. You crave your spring tonic of sassafras tea and drive miles to collect morels and ramps.

And finally, beware of Visitors. Not visitors to your kitchen but to your cellar and freezer. Jars of jam and pickles, bags of frozen venison and veggies find their way to cars and trucks routinely. So be prepared to put up enough for your family and for those who are awestruck at your abundance. You will want to give some to them, just so they can experience the pleasure of home-raised, home-processed food. Just watch: next year they'll be planting a garden or getting a few chickens themselves.

Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Angela said...

This is a great post Granny Sue! So fitting for this time of year too! I remember when I was a teen dad grew broccoli. I found a worm on it and it just totally grossed me out. I've never tried to grow broccoli and I doubt it I ever will. lol


what a hoot and so true! Just made strawberry jam, what a mess. I'm doing it from a scooter this year. a bit tricky, can you imagine lol. You forgot about the extra zucchini! You've given it to everyone in the neighborhood. Now when they see you they run inside and close the door. lol Happy harvesting!

Larry Eiss said...

A fun read full of interesting and useful tidbits. Thanks!

Country Whispers said...

Love this post!
Every bit of it is so true.
On the flip side there is great pride in your accomplishments after all the work that you have put in it.
Oh, and those family and friends that get the gifts of your labor are far more thrilled with it than any ol' store bought jar of food.

Marilyn Sue Shank said...

I wish I were a member of your family to visit your cellar! Yum! The comment about the mesh onion bag reminded me of how we sterilized dishes in Girl Scout camp in two mesh dishrags stitched together with a pull string at the top. We'd spin the dishes dry. Fun memory! Thanks for triggering it.

Granny Sue said...

Of course I wrote this tongue in cheek, but it is all true, as you all know. I wonder, would I have started down this path had I known the dangers? Yes, I would. There is just nothing like going into your gardens and gathering the major part of dinner, or sitting on your porch looking out at flowers, herbs and veggies. I am reminded of that each time I visit a city and feel the heat of pavement burning the soles of my feet.

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

All very good, but may I add that the taste of freshly-picked tomatoes or sweet corn bears faint resemblance to those bought in stores and may lead to huge losses for Kroger and Wal-Mart.

Granny Sue said...

That's the truth, Wayfarin'. I am so impatient for the first tomatoes to ripen. At least we've had a few cucumbers!

Chicken Wrangler said...

What a fun post - loved reading it and sure got a chuckle or two - esp about tomatoes exploding! I can see it in my mind's eye! Thanks for the advice!

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