Lane County Extension: Master Food Preservers


So there's a lot of misinformation on the internet about food preserving, and you know some of it is actively dangerous. People say, "Oh, you can do this and you can do that," but unless you're trained properly, you better not just try to wing it on what you can pick up off the computer. It's dangerous, some of it. [Music]

My name is M.L. Church, and I'm with Master Food Preservers. I was invited to join by a woman who is a friend of mine, and I took the class and was impressed and stunned and amazed by everything I learned. If the big one, the earthquake, ever comes, we're going to need at least a month's worth of sustenance. I'm a mile and a half in off Territorial Highway, and there are three bridges just to get out to Territorial. I think if that earthquake ever hits, we're going to be stuck for a while, and that's what I'm preparing for, is that kind of duration.

I would say it has made a huge difference in our life because once you assemble the equipment and get into the routine of canning produce and meat and things like that, it's relatively inexpensive and it's relatively high-quality food. The 40th year for Master Food Preservers in Oregon, and I was fortunate enough to start the first program, and I've been with Lane County for 40 years. So it's been really cool to watch the program grow, and I think building community around healthy eating and preserving your own foods and being prepared has really brought the group together.

I participate in the Master Food Preservers and also the Nutrition Education Program. I mainly got into it for the food preservation, and I wanted to learn how to process and preserve food safely. It's made me very confident in processing the food, you know, preserving the food, and just feeling like I could take care of myself if anything happened and if there's an emergency, I'm well prepared. It's not just having the food and having the water and knowing about that.

Oh, I think Extension is essential to Lane County because the services we provide, and not just the Master Food Preserver program, but the Master Gardener, the Nutrition Education Program to children and families in need. We reach so many people, and all the feedback we get is just fabulous, and can we do more? I think it's really essential because the people really are wanting to eat their local foods, they want to preserve from their garden and do all that. And I think we've helped a lot of people become sustainable in their homes and have a food supply and realize that it can be done and how easy it is to do it. And I just feel that this group especially has helped a lot of people. It's a great group of people to work with, everybody's involved, and I think we're doing a lot of good. And you know, if you can plant a garden and make it grow and then figure out how to save it, you're really reducing your food bill. And that's one of the more important things I think we do. We're out in the community, our workshops fill up, we're out at farmers' markets in the local communities, and we can really reach out and help people out there.

In the four years after voters passed a levy to fund OSU Extension in Lane County in 2016, volunteers in the Master Food Preservers program have doubled the amount of workshops offered and increased educational contacts by 120%. Food safety and preservation resources and classes, provided through the Oregon State University Extension Family and Community Health Program, ensures Oregonians have access to the most reliable information available.

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