By Emily Logan
AMES, Iowa -- As the price of food rises and interest in sustainable agriculture grows, consumers are finding increasing value and convenience in preserving foods. Iowa State University is working to make sure that those participating in the recent trend are staying safe.
“There’s a national interest in local, sustainable foods, and food preservation ties right in with it,” said Holly VanHeel, a nutrition and health specialist with Human Sciences Extension and Outreach. “Preserve the Taste of Summer helps make sure that consumers preserving their food are staying safe.”
Preserve the Taste of Summer is a statewide, comprehensive program by Human Sciences Extension and Outreach that teaches food safety and the basics of preservation. The program offers up to eight online lessons and four hands-on workshops that address major food preservation topics including food safety, hot water-bath canning, pressure canning, pickling, freezing and dehydrating.
Iowa State noticed the need for a food preservation program in Iowa when AnswerLine, a resource for Iowa consumers with home and family questions, saw a 30 percent increase in questions about food preservation between 2008 and 2010. In response to this increased interest, Iowa State launched Preserve the Taste of Summer in 2011.
The program has expanded since then.
ISU Extension and Outreach recently partnered with Hy-Vee so that registered dietitians can educate shoppers and clients about safe food preservation. Many schoolteachers also are enrolled in the program.
“Food preservation is a common topic with my customers,” said Kym Wroble, a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Iowa City. “After taking the course, I know I can help spread the knowledge of safe food preservation, and I’m preparing to teach a class at Hy-Vee this fall to do just that.”
Extension offices from the University of Illinois and Washington State University have also recently adopted Preserve the Taste of Summer from Iowa State.
“Educators can help share information with their students and clients,” said Sarah Francis, an Iowa State assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and ISU Extension and Outreach nutrition specialist. “They can explain that things aren’t done the way they used to be and new practices are out there.”
This summer, more than 100 Iowans are enrolled in one of the program’s four participation options: professional, silver, gold, or bronze. Teachings in each option are based on information provided by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Registration for the program is available year-round.
Photo caption: Participants in Preserve the Taste of Summer learn how to safely pressure can green beans during a hands-on workshop in Council Bluffs. Contributed photo.