The pickle manufacturers want us to believe pickle-making is difficult, dangerous and time consuming. The pickle manufacturers want us to believe the pickles from their pickle factories are better, cheaper, safer and less of a hassle than pickles created in the sanctity of our own kitchens. They want us to believe their chemically grown (and petroleum harvested) cucumbers are better than cucumbers we can grow in our backyard gardens.
The pickle manufacturers are part of the industrial food complex, the evil cartel trying to convince us we will starve to death if not for their robotic factories staffed by machines that measure, pour, sift, blanch and cook according to computers’ palates. These factories are depressing, dull, stainless-steel places where lowly human employees are reduced to servitude. Some are scullery technicians half-heartedly leaning on mops next to buckets of bleachy sterilizer, standing by to clean the chutes and hoppers and bins and tanks. Like Sisyphus, they scrub knowing their work will soon be soiled again. Other hairnetted humans stand watch above the network of conveyors for rejects, mutants and signs of salmonella or listeria which, given the growing stream of product recalls, are apparently still sneaking by the sensors and sentries.
The industrial food complex is a liar. We can grow cucumbers in our backyard gardens, enough for a year’s worth of relish and pickles, and still have plenty to give away to friends and family. It’s easy to fill bowls and crocks with cukes and brine and let ’em set until the fruit turns sour or sweet or spicy, depending on the recipe. It’s easy to sterilize and fill quart jars with pickles, remove the air bubbles and leave enough headroom, and put on the lids so the magic of the boiling water-bath steamer makes the pickles safe for storage in the pantry — good for a year or two, or longer.
Canning pickles or spaghetti sauce or salsa at home is more expensive than buying the factory swill sold coast-to-coast and around the world. That is, more expensive at first. But if we re-use the jars and the other canning equipment year after year, while the price of food goes up and up (and continues to climb to pay the true costs of the carbon footprints left behind by our food), then canning will pay off. Big time.
It doesn’t cost too much to get started, especially if you already have a garden. Fifty bucks gets you a Ball canning kit that includes the 21-quart water bath, a handful of tools, and a copy of Ball’s famous “Blue Book” on canning. (To avoid botulism and other deadly suffering, certain food preservation laws are essential to obey.) A dozen quart jars can be had for a ten spot at the local grocery or hardware store. A pressure canner — necessary for canning low-acid foods like tomato sauces, meats and fish — will set you back a little less than a c-note. (Note: These prices are for new merchandise. Used is fine and dramatically cheaper. Better yet, a free hand-me-down from an old pal or aunt works just as well.)
The collapse is coming. I don’t have a date or time yet, but you gotta be ready, because our society can’t survive on its current path. (Think I’m crazy? The $700 billion bailout of Wall Street loan sharks shows the pitiful frailty of capitalism.) People really hate to consider the realities of the collapse. It bums them out, especially when they know they’re not prepared. But imagine how bummed out everyone will be when the food factories shut down and the grocery shelves are empty.
Life after the collapse doesn’t have to be bleak. Our cupboards can be full. Harvest veggies from the backyard. Get a deer. Forage for shellfish down at the shore. And can it all so you won’t be waiting in the FEMA food lines for the meals-ready-to-eat that are bound to run out quickly when a country of 300 million suddenly gets disconnected from the industrial farms and slaughterhouses. A nation’s dinner will thaw and rot in the giant corporate freezers that are so far away from the ones who will need the food the most.
Because, for the first time in human history, the number of people on the globe living in urban environs outweighs the ruralites. That can only mean one thing: Run, my friend. Run to the wilds.