Originally Posted by Jyotsna
Here's my crux about can goods, and I guess I need some
veggies and beans in cans, but I hate the way they taste.
I like dry beans. I like soaking them (think about the extra
nutrition) and I love fresh veggies. So how can a person
have a healthy diet on canned foods? I'm not talking about
our own canned veggies from our own garden, I'm talking
about store bought cans of food.
As for what we eat per season? We still eat soup year around.
Soup is so nutritious (lentils, beans, veggies, veggie broth, ect).
We LOVE salads and have already started eating a ton of salads
now that we noticed the warmer temps. As the summer burns
on, we will stop using the stove unless we need to (roasting
almonds for example). I don't use a microwave so this doesn't
help with the heat situation while cooking in the summer.
How do all of you keep the house cool in the summer while preparing
healthy foods? I live in the south, and we get temps upwards to
105 during July and August. We've even had 110 once or twice.
Just to let you know- you don't HAVE to soak beans. You can if you want, but if you don't, it'll just take 2-3 hours to cook them, in an oven, on the stove, or in the Crock Pot.
If you want to ditch your Crock Pot, I'd strongly suggest a cast iron dutch oven. We have a Lodge, and I love it. They are about as much as a large Crock Pot, ~$30.
Also, if you are in the south and want to keep the house cool, you should really get a cast iron dutch oven anyway to use in a solar cooker. (A lidded, black pot is the ideal vessel for use in a solar cooker/oven.) If you have any sort of yard, you can use a solar cooker. You can buy or build them (very easy-can be done with cardboard), they can be permanant or portable.
In our short summers, we cook outside a great deal. We have a grill, a camp oven, and a solar cooker. We make a point not to turn on the range if at all possible. (We don't have a microwave, either, but we do have a toaster oven.)
I would say that you don't HAVE to buy canned veggies. We buy canned green beans and canned olives, and that's about it. Everything else is either home canned or frozen- we don't have pressure canner, just hot water bath, so we freeze a lot of veggies.
If you want to have a small stock of canned goods in case of earthquake or other emergency, I'd contact your local county extension office and review their resources.
As far as eating in season and eating locally, the only way to do both where I live is to preserve your own food (or barter with a local person who perserves his/her own food). I suspect that many areas are the same way. Eating locally, in season, and fresh is only possible for me to do 100% for about 4-5 months out of the year. And thru the winter, even if I'm eating unpreserved root veggies, are they really
fresh? Potatoes, parsnips, turnips, rutabegas, beets, squash, carrots- these things last for months if properly stored (a cool dry place, a bucket of sand and carrots will last a year).
I was not the first to observe this at all. I read a great book recently, called the Dinner Diaries
, which is all about one (pretty mainstream) mom's attempt to get her picky family to eat better. She comes to the conclusion that she has to pick her battles- she can't eat fresh, local, and in season all the time, it's just impossible.
So I go ahead and buy canned pineapple, coffee, tea, bananas, avacado, cocoa, chocolate, spices, nuts, coconut, and dried fruit. I do organic and fair trade on this stuff whenever I can.
As far as other staples go, I don't ever buy anything that was grown outside the U.S. or Canada (I'm closer to Ontario than I am to 48 of the 49 other states). Michigan is pretty agrarian state, so I can buy beet sugar and wheat and corn and all kinds of fruit and veggies that are MI and even UP grown. We buy Alaskan salmon, farm raised catfish and some ocean seafood, but we mostly eat smelt, walleye, whitefish, trout, perch, and other local lake fish. And, funny as it is, meat is the easiest one for us- all our meat is local, and either organic, grass fed, humanely treated or was hunted by DH's parents.
If I screw up at the store and grab tilapia by mistake, or I mis-calculate and we run out of homegrown frozen corn, I don't beat myself up. We eat the fish, and I buy frozen corn when it's on sale.
These are my priorities and systems. Obviously, yours will be different depending on what's local to you and the issues you care about the most.
We grow sprouts in the winter- just mung and alfalfa, just with a mason jar and cheesecloth, nothing fancy here- to put on sandwiches and stuff, but if we want a salad in the winter, we go ahead and buy some organic California greens. I think the key is to not rely on that as a staple all year round. Again, we don't beat ourselves up, we just try to make better choices most of the time. Again, YMMV.
I hope becoming familiar with someone else's process helps you make you own.