Jul 16, 2010

How much is homemade jam really worth?

It's alot of work to make strawberry jam. Is it worth it? Guess that depends on how you evaluate "worth."

Usually "worth" means money. We spent $35 at the u-pick field, and another $50 on honey, pectin and jar lids, to make 52 small (250ml) jars - about $1.60 per jar that would sell for $4 or $5 at the farmer's market. Savings, about $100.

Of course, we spent 6 adult-hours picking and another 8 hours processing to save that $100. I'm happy to say that I actually earn more than $7.14/hour with my consulting work, so couldn't I have just taken on a few more hours of work and spent the other 6 hours at the beach?

The key to this new path, this labour-intensive low-paying life, is not valuing time in monetary terms. Those 3 hours with our children in the field were not money-saving, they were fun. They connected us with our food sources, filled our bellies as well as our baskets, and filled the air with song and laughter. The long night of processing allowed for slow conversation, balanced quiet and satisfaction of joint accomplishment that is the definition of quality couple time. You can't put a price tag on that, unless it's the cost savings of marital counseling.

When we crack open a few jars of jam each month throughout the winter, it's going to taste Good in so many ways. Our tongues will taste the perfect sweetness of berries sun-ripened on the bush and processed the same day they were picked. Our bodies will be thankful for the 100% organic ingredients and low honey/sugar content due to the special organic pectin we've discovered. Our social conscience will savour the low carbon footprint and earth-friendly organic farming methods of the local berries and honey, and how our money supported our berry- and honey-producing neighbours instead of the California corporations.

But we could have had all those real and righteous tastes by buying at the farmers' market. What will make our Wildside Farm jam truly delicious is tasting the memory of a day in the sun with my boys and a steamy night in the kitchen with my wife. Remembering plucking each stem, stirring the boiling frothy mass, even scrubbing the stove at midnight. That personal connection and investment in our food isn't just "priceless"; it's a true, tasty definition of worth.

1 comment:

  1. Ricky....we are making homemade strawberry jam this week! I was going to starting looking for upick places....where did you go? We made all of our jam last year with fruit that we gleaned from road sides and friends/family's gardens so we didn't spend a penny on fruit. We used honey as a sweetener, but this year we'll use our abundant fair trade sugar from the group buy. We made about 45 jars, but I really missed strawberry jam!