Canning hobby results in better health, cheaper grocery bills – American Press | American Press – American Press

Published 7:49 am Wednesday, April 13, 2022
By Rita Lebleu
Carla Melancon grew up watching her mother do some canning, mainly jellies and such. In 2015, she decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle and wanted her household to be more food self-sufficient, so she began to teach herself canning by watching online videos.
“I love doing it,” she said. “It started as something I thought I needed to do and now it’s a hobby.”
She doesn’t just can jellies – and when she does, she doesn’t use the sugar her mother did – she uses monk fruit sweeteners. Monk fruit, also known as lo han guo or Swingle fruit, is a small round fruit native to southern China. Monk fruit sweeteners are no-calorie sweeteners that can be used to lower one’s intake of added sugars, while still providing satisfaction to enjoy the taste of something sweet.
Melancon cans soups, gumbo, beans and meats.
“For lunch, I grab a pint on my way out, heat it up at work and eat it out of the jar,” she said. “I try to avoid preservatives and seldom eat out.”
Some artificial preservatives have been shown to affect the immune system, causing hypersensitivity and chronic inflammation, for example. Some increase bacteria that tend to have negative effects on the body while decreasing beneficial bacteria.
This past year, Melancon took her food self sufficiency skills up a notch, planting a garden.
“I canned 20 pints of tomatoes and 20 pints of okra,” she said.
When she purchases vegetables, she purchases mainly organic, better than conventionally grown counterparts because organic produce, poultry and dairy products contain less pesticide residue.
“Every year a nonprofit advocacy organization lists fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residue,” Melancon said. “It’s called the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen,” she said.
Strawberries are at the top of the list this year, which means of the 12 items listed, strawberries that were tested contained the most residue. Number two was spinach, followed by kale, collard and mustard greens; nectarines; apples; grapes; bell and hot peppers; cherries; peaches; pears; celery; and tomatoes.
The Clean Fifteen are avocados, sweet corn (organic), pineapple, onions, papaya (organic); sweet peas (frozen); asparagus, honeydew melon, kiwi, cabbage, mushrooms, cantaloupe, mangoes, watermelon and sweet potatoes.
Melancon has lost 50 pounds, has more energy, has no more sinus headaches. She is not taking any medication that she might have had to take without the lifestyle change. She still bakes. Her husband snacks on regular potato chips and she has her brand made without grain. He eats rice with her canned gumbo. She eats spaghetti squash. He drinks his Community Coffee. She has organic coffee sweetened with monk fruit. She bakes and prepares meals he loves, such as roast, rice and gravy and she eats organic ground beef and/or deer ground steak or has organic peanut butter and monk fruit sweetened organic strawberry fig preserves on a toasted piece of Ezekiel bread.
“Ezekiel bread is about as nutrient-dense as bread gets and I can’t eat it without toasting it,” Melancon said.
It’s a type of bread made from a variety of whole grains and legumes that have started sprouting.
Melancon didn’t take a bite of the Strawberry Delight cake she made for family. She wasn’t even tempted.
“Once you get yourself off junk food, once you get that sugar out of your system, you really don’t want it,” she said.
She admits to cravings and tears early on, until she found healthy foods to replace those cravings, for instance Lily’s chocolate bars.
With threats of a food shortage circulating and prices climbing higher, Melancon’s canning and gardening are helping keep food costs down. She even cans milk, which costs her 25 cents for two cups. Compare that to the average price of a 12-ounce can of evaporated milk, which can cost as much as $1.79, depending on brand purchased.
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