“Why do you preserve food, albeit can, dehydrate, ferment or freeze?”  This is the question I posed to several of my social media groups. I was blessed with a massive response.  The list below comes from the passionate comments of 100’s folks that are part of Rebel Canners, Fermenters Kitchen, the Mother Earth News Gardening Group, and are fans of the Ivan Tomato Rescue Projects Facebook page.

I preserve food because I love it, the food is better, and because I run a seed company, Victory Gardeners.  When I work to save a rare cultivar and collect its seeds, I end up with lots of fruit.  I started canning to do something with all the extra tomato meat that was leftover from de-seeding.  Now I have expanded my processes to include dehydrating and fermenting.

Everyone had their own reason they preserved food.  I am sure you will identify with many in the lists below. I divided them into sections to categorize the responses and help keep it all organized. Many may seem alike, but I wanted to honor the differences in the answers that people gave.  Enjoy!


Control of product and process:

  • No added Ingredients
  • Full control over ingredients
  • Know where food comes from
  • Know how food is preserved
  • With kids with multiple allergies on top of celiac, we love being able to grab a jar from the shelf and know we don’t have to worry.
  • Food with preservatives makes me sick. My can goods do not.
  • My tools and machines are cleaned after every use, unlike mass production
  • My husband is on dialysis and he can’t eat many foods. I know he can handle the foods I have prepared and canned for our use.
  • No GMO’s, pesticides, or artificial preservatives
  • Food Sovereignty
  • Learning to master a process
  • Know it is organic
  • Skill Building
  • I can open a jar on a long snowy night with 10 feet of snow and my tomatoes will smell like fresh-picked
  • The quality is the best, I can get or grow the best ingredients, make something delicious with no additives and with minimal packaging
  • Because I have 18 food allergies and I can buy very little that’s safe for me at the grocery store, I’ve learned to ferment, dehydrate, can, and cure my own meat so I can still eat things I like.
  • I love playing with my food like a mad scientist.
  • It is satisfying to see all those canned fruits and vegetables on the shelves knowing that from start to finish I had knowledge and input into the whole process.
  • Try to feed my family minimal preservatives and additives

Self Sufficiency:

  • Prepared for sickness or weather problems
  • Saves money over the long term
  • Prepped for emergencies
  • The knowledge that when I don’t have time to cook, I have home-cooked meals ready to go
  • With my canned goods, I can come home from work and I can have soup, potatoes, corn, and cornbread ready to eat in 20 minutes.
  • Recycling and using no plastic
  • Vine-ripened tomatoes in January
  • I eat seasonably and don’t buy from a grocery store, so if I don’t can, dehydrate, or freeze it we don’t eat it
  • No miles from my garden to my jars to my table, it’s the ultimate in eating local.
  • It feels right to align with the seasons and rhythms of the Earth to preserve what is bountiful and eat it until the next season. It’s also much cheaper and friendly to the environment than eating produce trucked in out of season from long distances away.
  • Help family income
  • Growing from seed to plant to harvest to the jar. Full Lifecycle.
  • Survival Instinct.
  • Canning and preserving whatever bounty the Lord sent our way
  • Better than going hungry – groundhogs tastes as good as pork chops when you don’t have pork chops.
  • Without the culture of food, preservation civilizations die out.
  • Those with the smallest of gardens can have fresh food.
  • Survival
  • Food security
  • Not wasting food
  • Living in a remote location it is hard to get vegetables year-round. This gives us healthy food in the off-seasons.
  • Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without
  • I can handle life-changing events.
  • Pass on knowledge to future generations to help them survive environmental change
  • Use food that would otherwise be thrown in the garbage
  • Less packaging
  • Self-reliance creates a feeling of strength in a world of dangers.
  • I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing things myself. I am also becoming less trusting in the general good supply, so being self-sufficient is a valuable skill.
  • I enjoy canning & preserving because it provides a way to use the abundant harvest without it going to waste.

Health and Emotional Benefits and Happiness:

  • It’s stress relief and simply amazing to create foods. It’s like your own little homestead right there in your own home.
  • Soothes my soul
  • Healthy food all year long
  • Physical exertion
  • Gifts on hand for events
  • Potlucks are easy
  • Pride in what I do
  • Making foods I can’t buy in the grocery store
  • Growing, harvesting, and preserving with love and care
  • To combat mortality
  • I get to have organic food that I grew and connected to the earth with, which will be great when the garden is no longer producing. I love becoming one with my beautiful little piece of the earth
  • Gardening and food preservation are used by many people to get their lives back together
  • Nothing more satisfying than planting that tiny little seed, nurturing throughout the season, then harvesting, preserving, rewarded with the food that came from that tiny seed
  • Preserving food gives us a feeling of control over our resources. It also evokes an ancient connection with the surplus being a foundation of civilization.
  • Nothing more satisfying than looking in the pantry and seeing all your preserves.
  • Made with love.
  • Embrace the feeling of how well Mother Earth provides for us.
  • I can give them as gifts for holidays, birthdays and get well, etc. In one single jar, many blessings can be received.
  • Turning otherwise normal things into top shelf delicacies
  • Tastes so much better than the food you get at grocery stores
  • Healthy “fast food”
  • To fill an inner void.
  • It’s healthier
  • I love knowing I did it and it’s fresh and healthy and delicious!


  • Enjoy the taste of fermented food
  • Health Benefits of fermenting food
  • Love having living cultures bubbling in my kitchen
  • Living in a remote location it is hard to get vegetables year-round. This gives us healthy, live, food in the off-seasons.
  • Gut bugs don’t populate themselves.
  • Been off-script antacids since getting serious about veggie fermentation! Krauts, Salsas, Kimchi’s, Pickles and whatever else I can make bubble
  • I love the mad scientist vibe!
  • It is a fun and delicious hobby. I like messing around with microbes. This is probably because of my education in microbiology and cell biology.

Family and Tradition

  • Honoring the hard work of my mother, grandmothers, great grandmother, and other past generations, as well as the traditions passed down and the stories told while doing the work.
  • Reminds us of our relatives and loved ones and rekindles our memories of those gone by.
  • Reminds me of my mother who has passed on.
  • You work every day to care for your family and gardening and preserving the food go hand and hand.
  • Passing skills from generation to generation
  • My grandma canned, my mom canned, and I can.
  • A way of life
  • The family activity we all enjoy.
  • Preserving Family Recipes
  • Keeping the old ways and traditions
  • I feel wealthy when I see all the jars in my pantry and the food on my family’s plates
  • At the end of the day, it brings me joy, a sense of accomplishment, a connection to my family heritage that extends into the future with my kids.
  • Creating memories
  • A direct connection to all the food gatherers all over the world and through time and history. I am doing what my ancestors did, and their ancestors did and people all over the world have done for millennia without borders to separate us. Connected by food and humanity.
  • The continuing a family tradition of fermenters, brewers, and winemakers.
  • I used to watch my grandmother preserve. When we grew up, she gave us Christmas gifts of her canned goods and a homemade quilt. I want to carry this on.
  • I do not come from a family of gardeners or canners, but I used to tell my mom we are only two generations removed from our agricultural ancestors. I was tired of being at the end of my work week exhausted and having nothing tangible to show for all my hard work. I started canning in small batches and I loved having jars of yummy jam to show for my work. Many friends and family members look forward to a box of “jars” at the holidays
  • Canning connects me to my ancestors. I feel them with me and smile to see their ways remembered and utilized.
  • Reminds me of growing up, helping mom make grandma’s recipes. Using fruit from our yard, or buying local. I like how we could keep those flavors of summer all year long and share them with others.
  • My grandmother grew up hand-to-mouth in a little cabin in Western Colorado. Her family foraged for wild foods in the summer & preserved what they could against harsh Colorado winters. Her life was a bit less tenuous when I knew her, but she still “put food by” and distributed it to the families of her 9 grown children. Some of my favorite memories are of picking chokecherries (capulin) with her. She made amazing syrup and jelly, that my dad was crazy about. After she died, my favorite aunt tried to make chokecherry jelly for him, but it just wasn’t the same. In my 30’s I asked my dying aunt for her recipe, and while she was giving it to me, she mentioned several things that her mom did that she did differently (because her mom’s way was just too old-fashioned.) I went home and made the jelly the way her mother did, and my dad cried the first time he ate it because it captured that flavor his mother’s jelly had. I made him capulin jelly every year of his life after that & he loved every jar. I got to touch the spirits of my grandmother and aunt every year, in the process of making it. Just after he died, I moved to an area where there are no chokecherries. I have one jar left. I may never open it.
  • To break with my citified family ways and make a new tradition of self-sufficiency, control, and getting back to nature for my children.


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