In the fall of 2013 I had the good fortune of attending the TEDx: Toronto event; where I swam in a sea of amazing innovators and thinkers. Among them were Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison – two people whose passion for preserving transformed the edible into not only an art form but also created a springboard for the way I (and I suspect many others) view food.
Joel was one of the highlighted speakers, and while only given a much too short twenty minutes to regal the audience with his foodie wisdom, his words have continued to resonate with me to this day. (You can watch his talk here). I even had the pleasure of meeting Joel following his homily, an introduction made possible by his parents after chatting with them about their annual farm-fresh pasta sauce making event. Joel’s speech had such an impact on me that I talked about it endlessly with a friend, who in turn referenced it during both the writing and subsequent defense of her Masters thesis – a comprehensive study into the corporate falsities surrounding the labeling of foods as “natural”.
Needless to say, I was absolutely ecstatic when I found out that Joel and Dana had published a book on preserving. As both a loyal follower of their website and subscriber of their newsletter, I pre-ordered a copy of their new book, Batch within minutes of finding out about its existence – a premeditation that, for me, only rivalled the much anticipated release of Titanic onto VHS.
This is the real deal, people. I have no investment in this book nor do I get anything from promoting it. Batch is the perfect example of a blossoming passion; the creative end product of two people’s unfaltering devotion to change the way the world looks at, uses, and eats their food. I can say with surmounting eagerness that this book has become my go to resource as I prepare for the seasonal opening of our community’s farmer’s markets. The idea behind preserving, in my opinion, is establishing a re-connection with the food we eat – developing a relationship that goes far beyond the grocery store lights. Because of this, Batch will be at the centre of my Slow Food Challenge for the coming months; a time during which I plan to become reacquainted with the food I eat – both innately and physiologically. I am so looking forward to this task and the tasty rewards it will no doubt bring – and to push the output of my cherished dehydrator to a whole other level. (Three guesses what everyone is getting for Christmas this year!)
Even if you only have a glimmer of interest in the procedures of food preservation, I strongly encourage you to at least check out Joel’s TEDx talk and allow it to open your eyes about the food we eat and the inherent ambiguity that frames the food “business”.
Then go pick up a copy of Batch and start preserving. Trust me, you’ll never look at processed food the same way again – especially when it comes to the food industry’s “go to” catch phrase: natural flavoring. One word. Eww.