Pesticides and Home Canning

| 7/27/2012 8:14:33 AM

Conventionally Grown Food Can Be Canned, Too

CannedGoodsThis is my introductory blog entry here and I’m so pleased to have this opportunity to communicate with and possibly assist some of Mother's readers.

Several years ago, I became certified by university-run extension service programs both as a master gardener and a master food preserver. That led to my developing the above-ground gardening methods explained in my new book, Stand Up and Garden. It includes techniques for growing large amounts of vegetables and herbs in a limited space, with an eye to preserving that food at harvest.

Much of my time is spent helping other people to grow as well as preserve their food; it’s my passion. That includes clearing up myths and misconceptions, as well. A recent post here about canning produce caught my attention. It stated that produce not grown organically cannot be safely canned.

The writer’s theory was, apparently, that pesticides prevent produce from safely reaching the state at which it is safely preserved. Right now, that’s not an established fact we can use to push for eliminating the use of non-organic pesticides, however desirable that may be. So, theory needs to be separated from fact here.

Consumers cannot afford to toss aside good fruits and vegetables that could otherwise be preserved. Many families would go hungry if only strictly organically grown produce was safe to can. By looking back at how long people have canned their crops, history dispels this particular theory. For many generations, farmers who used commercial, non-organic pesticides have preserved crops of their own at home and also sold them to stores and consumers. City-dwellers and other non-gardening folks have routinely purchased those crops for canning, both directly from the farms and from markets. That canned food was and is still deemed as safe to eat as organically grown produce.

So, successful home canning has never been limited by whether the product was grown in a totally organic, pesticide-free environment. If food can be safely eaten fresh after thorough washing, it can safely be canned. None of the reputable canning instruction books, such as the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, or state extension canning information websites stipulate that only organically grown produce may be safely canned. 

Donna Street
9/10/2012 8:30:13 PM

I'm glad to see this discussed. We are retired and have an organic garden started in our new home, and while we have always gardened organically, we find that we can no longer afford to purchase only organic foods. We have been facing the choice of purchasing non-organic or not purchasing. We still prefer organic and will always use organic when ever we can, but have had to give up on using only organic foods.

9/10/2012 6:19:52 PM

The extension service can provide you with a lot of information and Ball's Blue book of canning. There are also a lot of information on line. I wanted to know how to can nectarines and just typed in canning nectarines and got a lot of information.

Linda Slasberg
9/10/2012 5:50:26 PM

Hi, This is an interesting subject. I have never canned anything but would like to try, however I don't what I can "can". I don't grow a lot in my garden but some and wonder whether there is a list of produce that can be canned. Thank you

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