With the skyrocketing gas prices, more families are taking family vacations close to home. I've noticed an increase of tent ads in the fliers being sent to my parent's home in Canada, and suddenly all my spoiled friends are "slumming it" by going camping. What's happening?
My dad who owns a cottage near North Bay says that cottagers will soon be an endangered species. With high gas prices, coupled with a predicted real estate market crash for Canada (following the US), fewer and fewer people will be participating in the summer ritual, he believes.
Although I'd just spent two weeks of wholesome fun on Ruth Lake (near Powasson), even without the cottage, summer can be a lot of fun. One way to spend an entire afternoon and take advantage of all the seasonal fruits and veggies in your region, is by making preserves.
My niece and her friend make strawberry jam. After boiling the strawberries, we had to skim this pinkish foam off the surface. A few spoons of it added to a cup of milk, made the most delicious strawberry flavored milk any of us had tasted.
Whether you have young kids at home, teens, or are a singleton who is young at heart, making your own jam is a great experience. It's very green too. Ironically, the day that my we made our own jam at home, Hamutal Dotan, a friend, published an excellent and easy DIY recipe for strawberry jam. A recipe for "locavores" (people who eat locally), she says. And there are plenty more great recipes over on TreeHugger: See easy homemade yogurt, preserves become ideology in a jar, or how about homemade chocolate cake?
Many of us have fond memories of our parents or grandparents making preserves. My parents used to pickle beets, make their own baby dills, preserve tomatoes and fruits like peaches and pears; and they would once and a while try making their own wine and beer. But not any more. Now, food has become so cheap and time, well... it's being spent on other things. But it is so healthy? I say we need a revolution -- one where people spend less time at shopping malls, and more in the kitchen.
Five Green Reasons for Canning and Preserving Your Own Food
1. You know what's going in, and can avoid dangerous additives. A healthier you is a greener you. Fewer doctor's visits, less expensive diets, less of everything.
2. Instead of buying fruit from exotic and foreign countries in the winter, and having it shipped all the way to your door (this takes a lot of energy!), just go into your pantry and eat your own tasty and healthy preserves.
3. Preserving with your family and friends makes for a simple and practically cost-free day of fun. Go pick your own berries and veggies. Expenses will include canning equipment and jars, plus the veggies and fruits. But imagine the money you will save in the long run?
4. Preserves make wonderful gifts. Imagine making your labels on your own organic jams, chutney and pesto and telling your friends how you made it for them at the dinner party? It's a good cheap way to give your friends presents they are actually likely to use. Plus you'll be popular.
5. Preserves jars can easily be recycled. And I am not talking about the blue box. Ask your friends to return their jars. Promise them that they will be filled up next season with something new if they do. Just imagine how many people and local farmers you are going to make happy!
Karin Kloosterman is the founder and editor of Green Prophet www.greenprophet.com, the leading environment news site in the Middle East. For tips and inquiries email