Published on January 24, 2022

Preserving Tasty Traditions

preserved and fermented food in jars

When it comes to improving your health, you can literally reap what you sow.

As a wife and busy mom of two, I find peace and clarity working in my garden and preserving foods for my family. In my role as Population Health director, I help our patients improve their overall health. To me, that’s what North Mississippi Health Services’ Improve Health initiative is really about.

basket of fresh vegetablesIt can be as simple as choosing healthier options over processed foods or growing a small garden. It doesn’t require a drastic lifestyle change; just focus on simple things you can do to improve your overall health.

My love for food preservation grew from watching my mother and grandmother grow and preserve fruits and vegetables. My parents and grandparents grew a garden every year and preserved what they grew. It was a way of life and a necessity for them. Some of my favorite memories as a child were hoeing the garden, shelling peas, picking vegetables and helping preserve them.

As an adult, this passion was rekindled by my need to feed my family healthy food and my professional desire to help others live healthier lives. Learning these skills is truly a way to preserve history; canning has become almost a lost art.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I tried our hand at gardening and had success with things like cucumbers for pickles and fruits for jams and jellies. When children came along, we let it go. At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, we found ourselves with extra time and jumped back into growing and preserving foods by building four raised beds.

It really makes me feel connected to my mom and my grandmother. It brings me back to what they taught me, and I love being able to teach that to my children and hopefully my grandchildren one day.

We also support others who are producing homegrown food. With food supply chain issues, supporting local farmers helps ensure we’re able to continue providing for our families.

Some of my favorite homemade creations include sauerkraut, strawberry freezer jam, salsa and vegetable soup. Homegrown tomatoes, salsa or vegetable soup taste so much better than what you buy from a store. Growing and preserving food takes extra work, but the return is always worth it.

I can cook a pound of ground beef or sausage and open a jar of vegetable soup to finish it off. In 15 minutes, I have a fresh supper cooked for my family. That is so helpful when I’m driving an hour home from work and in a hurry to fill bellies.

There’s nothing better than fresh salsa to top off Taco Tuesday! It adds a different layer of flavor that you’re not going to get from a store-bought tomato in winter.canning tomatoes

To learn more about food preservation, start small! Great resources are available on YouTube and from the Mississippi State Extension Service.

Expand as you learn and grow. Plant things you love to eat. Choose things you enjoy and learn to do them well. We expanded our garden in 2021 and now have 12 raised beds with free range chickens. We look forward to more expansion this year.

Throughout the last two years, we have faced challenges that often leave us mentally and emotionally drained. At the end of a workday, I have found a lot of comfort and mental clarity in my garden. Working with my hands to grow flowers and food gives me time to reflect and thank God for the blessings that he has provided for me and my family.

Bringing a Lost Art to Life