“The people who give you their food give you their heart.” –Cesar Chavez
College is a tough but exhilarating time of life. With all the change occurring, college students tend to treat their health from a reactive standpoint by waiting until they are sick, stressed or worse to treat what’s going on.
I’ve created this blog with the goal of equipping you with a stock supply of wellness advice to keep in your reserves so you can be proactive about your health and so you can feel prepared for when illness strikes, much like one would stock up on canned food in preparation for an emergency.
The tradition of keeping a reservoir of canned foods in Ball/Perfect Mason jars in our basement inspired me in naming this blog. Much like we filled our jars with food, I intend to fill your Perfect Mason jars with advice that will keep for the long run.
Growing up, both my grandmothers canned food, a tradition my mother picked up and modified, eventually letting my sisters and I participate. Both my grandmothers cultivated beautiful gardens that fed a few generations. My maternal grandmother grew and canned tomatoes, beans, corn, jams and jellies, and my paternal grandmother canned green beans, corn and salsa.
My mom and dad had a small garden when I was young, in which we picked carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and basil. Although she still loves gardening, my mom now limits it to peas, tomatoes and rhubarb because we all know those are things best when homegrown.
There are many different motivations to can your own food that may differ from person to person. Top reasons for canning food include, but are not limited to the following:
- It’s eco-friendly
- Financial concern
- Sentimentality & Connection
- Preserve personal harvest
- Passion & personal satisfaction
- Quality, taste and health
My grandparents canned food out of financial concern, preserving personal harvest, for quality, taste and health and because, at one point, they thought they needed to stock up for Y2K. In teaching their children how to preserve food, however, it became a sentimental tradition and a deeper connection among their family. This led to different motivations for my mom.
My mom canned because of the sentimentality and connection, passion and personal satisfaction, and for gifts. She taught us how to make jam out of berries and rhubarb that we grew or picked ourselves. We made black raspberry, crab apple and strawberry rhubarb jams in copious amounts, pouring the contents into Mason jars and gifting them to family, friends and new neighbors.
I now have fond memories of canning jam and I have a deep appreciation for the knowledge shared by my grandparents and my mom. I appreciate canning food for the eco-friendly purposes, personal satisfaction, financial concern (being a broke young adult), and sentimentality and connection.
All of these motivations for canning feed your overall health and wellness. How?
Mind: Knowing you’re saving money and preserving the food you worked so hard to grow gives you a level of self-confidence and satisfaction. You are able to save what you couldn’t consume immediately and continue to use it throughout the offseason. Lastly, neuroscience has demonstrated that giving is a powerful pathway for creating more personal joy and improving overall health. The act of giving produces dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin in our brains; when produced all together this is called The Happiness Trifecta. There is no doubt the giver and the receiver feel the effects of gift giving. Which ties well with the soul and body.
Soul: Giving and receiving gifts results in a deeper connection with one another. Humans were made to bond with each other and giving/receiving is only one way to satisfy your soul’s desire to be connected. People who are connected through mutual giving or activities have higher levels of empathy and social activity. Knowing you’re partaking in an act that has positive effects on the environment gives your conscience a boost, as well as the personal satisfaction you receive when you see the amount of work you’ve completed.
Body: The most obvious bodily effect of canning is the high quality of your food, the taste and health benefits. Canning organic food you’ve grown ensures the high quality of the food, allowing you to preserve it the way you prefer. It also eliminates the potential for the food on your table to be processed or contaminated by BPA, commonly found in plastic products. Additionally, the hormones mentioned previously have direct impacts on sleep, digestion, memory and more. Your body is physiologically changed when you give gifts, maintain deeper connections with people and fuel yourself with high quality food.
Stay tuned for more powerful ways to feed your mind, body and soul throughout the complexities of college life.
Until next time,