It’s a time for the farm kitchen to get some long overdue appreciation
A traditional country kitchen has an almost magical quality, a world unto itself with escapist qualities. It was the processing center of raw goods into family recipes and preserved delicacies that would last through the long cold winter months. These home economics weren’t just facts of life, they were shared family traditions that created cherished memories.
In today’s day and age prepping food and recipe experimentation aren’t exactly a go-to family pastimes. In fact, it may even seem a bit light and fluffy, the stuff Norman Rockwell Americana type imagery is made of. That is, until civilized society as we know it is threatened and the grocery store shelves are stripped bare in a frenzied panic.
There’s a sudden realization the food supply system suddenly isn’t as infallible as people assumed. But, on the flipside, we see some individuals whose response is an inspiration to return to a part of their roots. You could even say it’s a time for that farm kitchen to get some long overdue appreciation.
Seriously, I would love to see the numbers on people who dabble into the arenas of food preservation, preparation and the basics of backyard farming during the long days of quarantine. I’ve heard reports that hatcheries in some areas are suddenly back ordered courtesy of COVID-19!
It’s a very small step, but perhaps rekindling these practices might give consumers a newfound appreciation for what goes into food production, and perhaps give them a link back to agrarian life.
There is something so reassuring about the ability to utilize the old-fashioned tried and true methods of creation and preservation. Not to mention pastimes such as baking bread, canning, smoking, butchery, soaping (my personal guilty pleasure), home dairying, and the like all have something concrete to show for lots of hard work. Nothing is quite so satisfying in the way a fully stocked pantry or root cellar is.
The practicality side isn’t one to be undermined either. Interestingly, traditional canning had its origins as early as 1809, well before before pasteurization was introduced. We take it for granted now, but it really was an industry and welfare game changer, making food safer and more stable, especially when tin cans entered the scene. And let’s not forget the World War II American home front spurring the rise of victory gardens, encouraging an urbanizing population to regain their agricultural roots.
As commercial food production became more powerful and was able to safely and efficiently produce affordable, long-lasting preserved products, doing it all by hand was no longer a staple of day to day life. It’s no wonder that as families moved off the farm and life became more hands off, the time-honored tradition became little more than a distant memory. Before the internet brought tutorials, DIYs and how-to videos galore, there was less opportunity to easily teach oneself unless the process was taught from further down the family tree.
But when things come full circle, the idea of being self-reliant and taking up useful hobbies are really in an uptick, in part thanks to technology and even tragedy. Now people not only want to learn more about their food, they want to try their hand at producing and preparing it too. A return to the country kitchen, and all it embodies, is something we could all use a good dose of. There couldn’t be a better time to dust off those mason jars, fire up the stove top and crack open grandma’s recipe book.
Jaclyn Krymowski is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a major in animal industries and minor in agriculture communications. She is an enthusiastic agvocate, professional freelance writer, and blogs at the-herdbook.com.