Last week, I put my own spin on the well-documented canning renaissance in a story about quick pickles and refrigerator jam for the Austin American-Statesman, where I work full time as a food writer/columnist/blogger.
Canning is the perfect example of the kind of domestic kitchen task that modern-day feminists are reclaiming. (The only problem is, I have a healthy fear of botulism, being pregnant and all, so I prefer to make pickles and jams and then just eat them before they go bad instead of canning them in a water bath or pressurizer.)
While researching the story, I came across a collection of war-era food posters, curated by Cory Bernat, at the National Agricultural Library. There are some real gems in this series. You can get a real sense of the times by seeing the references to rations, canning, farming, victory gardens and how women were encouraged to “do their part” in the kitchen. Women were patriots if they grew their own food, saved their used fats and wasted less food.
These tasks aren’t touted as being patriotic so much anymore, but food activists and conscious cooks value them just as much, but for different reasons. How many of us keep bacon grease in a jar under the sink because we know it’ll make our cornbread taste better? I’ve been composting food scraps ever since I found out how much better it is for the environment to compost them rather than let them rot in landfills. Like any good feminist, I pride myself in self-sufficiency, which has a lot to do with the do-it-yourself cooking stories I end up writing (homemade marshmallows, anyone?) and why I planted my first backyard garden on the day President Obama was inaugurated.
What motivates you to do some of the food-related tasks shown in these posters? Is patriotism still part of the conversation?