Celebrating Canned Food Month: Strategies to Develop Food SecurityFeb 15, 2022 10:00AM ● By Nana Ama Addo
( Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels )
February is Canned Food Month. In commemoration, we’re highlighting the state of global and local food insecurity and exploring creating food security for urban communities through community gardening and food preservation techniques.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that globally, between 720 and 811 million people were vulnerable to hunger in 2020, with food insecurity increasing in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, North America, and Europe. In Philadelphia, the 2019 food insecurity rate was 14.4%, with the 2019 child food insecurity rate at 24.2%, as reported by Feeding America.
The issue of access to nutritional foods in poverty-stricken areas of Philadelphia is ongoing, and food that is affordable and accessible to Philadelphia’s vulnerable populations may have detrimental effects on their health long term. Junk food has a direct correlation with conditions such as high cholesterol, acne, obesity, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, stroke, heart disease, and more. In 2020, the City of Philadelphia reported that the leading cause of death in Philadelphia was heart disease and that as of 2019, non-Hispanic Blacks had the poorest health outcomes and lowest life expectancies in the city. At-risk Philadelphia communities may be empowered to create food security for themselves through urban farming and food preservation.
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While it may not be easy to find a farm in the concrete jungle, there are many community gardens in the city of Brotherly Love to lend a helping hand, like Philly Peace Park, South Street Community Garden, Temple Community Garden, and more. Community gardens are pieces of land that are shared by community members and utilized for gardening and food security. Most community gardens operate through membership programs. Joining a community garden may help people to grow their own food, like herbs, fruits, and vegetables and tomatoes, onions, potatoes, yams, and tubers.
After joining a community garden and growing food, preserving food is a strategy that may lessen food insecurity in the months after harvest. Canning food vanquishes microorganisms and disables enzymes that cause food to spoil, preserving food products and simultaneously guarding against food-borne illnesses. Canned food products usually last a year, so it is helpful to write the date on the food after it is preserved.
Previous generations utilized different food preservation techniques due to the lack of technology in use today like refrigerators and freezers. In many parts of traditional Africa, food is preserved mostly through sun drying, fermenting, clay pots, smoking, and salting.
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The various types of food preservation include canning, drying, freeze-drying, curing, freezing, pickling, and fermenting. The art of food preservation is a great survival skill that is usually practiced during the summer months when fruit and vegetables harvest, so preserved foods will be available during the cold months. The National Center for Home Food Preservation provides food preservation techniques here.
Do you know of any food preservation techniques that have been passed down through your culture or lineage? Comment below, we’d love to hear from you!
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This article is made in collaboration with Broke in Philly.
Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director, and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Nana Ama tells stories of entrepreneurship and Ghana repatriation at her brand, Asiedua’s Imprint ( www.asieduasimprint.com ).
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