From canning to fermenting to dehydrating, Christina Ward is an expert in teaching Milwaukeeans how to preserve food. She says that among the many professional hats she wears, this is the one she’s particularly proud of.
“I’m the master food preserver, which means I’m a volunteer in my community charged with giving people the latest and greatest science,” says Ward.
Ward's new book, Preservation, teaches the techniques the home cook needs to safely put food by. Ward says people often think we no longer need to know how to preserve our own food, but she says the knowledge is still relevant, especially here:
“Milwaukee is on the cutting edge of the urban agriculture movement," she explains. “All of the folks with guerilla gardens, with the victory gardens, with all of the garden plots we have around the city, you’re going to grow a lot of stuff and you need to figure out how you’re going to extend the life of it.”
She notes that it really wasn't too long ago that our survival as a society depended on safe food preservation. Ward says, “It’s a very modern notion that you can go into a grocery store and buy an apple any day of the year. That is a wholly modern invention, modern meaning twentieth century, really, the idea of refrigerated storage, refrigerated transport – bringing food in from other countries.”
Despite the ubiquity of refrigeration now, there is a growing interest in food preservation, which Ward says is due to various factors. “There’s folks wanting to connect to their own food history. There’s also more awareness about the chemical preservation – the chemicals that go into processed foods and people are trying to remove those from their lives.
“There’s also people that want to preserve food based on dietary necessities. There are so many things like gluten that are just added to everything, so by preserving it yourself you have a one hundred percent total control over what you’re eating," she explains.
Whatever the reason, Ward believes food is an equalizer among people. “I don’t care your political background, or whatever your ideologies are, when people are talking about food – they’re happy.”
Christina Ward will be talking about all things food preservation at Boswell Book Company Friday night at 7.
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