My canning presentation went really well. Twenty people showed up. It was an enthusiastic and knowledgable group, many with at least some experience under their belts. What was interesting about the numbers was the change. The woman who arranged the training said that prior to 2008, Berkshire Botanical Gardens would host these trainings and there were often so few takers that classes would be cancelled. Now, you have to be pre-registered and they don’t publicize the location to prevent a lot of last-minute walk-ins that they can’t accommodate. I don’t imagine for a moment that I’m the draw; few there had ever heard of me. I think the numbers say something though and here’s what I suspect it is.

We are a lot more concerned about our food source. There have been way too many news stories about contaminated food out there for anyone to be cavalier about where their food comes from or how it’s prepared.

We are a lot more concerned about food miles. Most of us have the good sence to be embarrassed when we purchase food produced on the other side of the globe.

We are a lot more concerned about our food dollars. Many people are poorer today that they were five years ago or they anticipate being poorer in the future. Food takes up a good chunk of our budget and we need to make those dollars count.

We are more concerned about food availability. What if some staple were unavailable at any cost?

We are more concerned with climate instability. Local storms, heat waves, cold snaps, floods and drought are part of the daily news diet. Weird weather affects food production.

We are concerned about geopolitical and economic events impacting our ability to feed our families. The debt ceiling talk and the constant talk of terrorism makes us feel very vulnerable.

We are concerned about jobs. If you have one, are you sure it will be there next year?

All of this gloom and doom is certainly on the minds of many but I think there are positive reasons for an upswing in preservation interests too.

Many of us love good food.

Many of us love the creative aspect of preparing food.

Many of us enjoy showing our love of family and friends by feeding them.

Many of us prefer being self-reliant rather than dependant.

In two weeks I do the second of this four-part series. I will be teaching the basics of dehydration and freezing. I love this particular class. People know what to expect with a canning demonstration but I love the reaction to preparing food I’ve dried at home. Those weird, ugly little withered sticks turn into fresh tasting green beans and people are amazed. Heck. I do it all the time and I’m amazed.

I have a wonderful, busy weekend coming up. Many of you will remember my grief a bit more than a year ago when our historic little church burn to the ground. Tomorrow morning is the ground-breaking for the new church. It will look much like the old church but with benefit of having bathrooms and handicapped accessibility (no small things when one is aging or bladder challenged). Later in the day we are going to the Scottish Festival in Northampton. I’m a fan of all things Scottish, especially the music so I’m looking forward to this. On Sunday, James Kunstler is speaking at Bascom Lodge on Mount Greylock. The author of 1491 will be speaking as well and I hope to get up there.