Journalism critics have long held that trend articles reflect the friends of editors more than society at large. If this truism is correct—as New York Magazine and Slate suggest—then a lot of editors’ friends have been preserving and canning this summer. The past two months have seen a bumper crop of trend pieces about the old and formerly untrendy practice of preserving the harvest. The pieces all wink at an understood distinction between trendy (read: high culture) urban canners and untrendy (read: low culture) rural canners. And unlike most trend pieces, they are particularly ambivalent about and sometimes even suspicious of the trend.
The New York Times started off the summer with this unsurprisingly New York- and Bay Area-centric trend piece on canning. “Preserving food,” NYT food writer Julia Moskin admits, “cannot be considered new and trendy, no matter how vigorously it’s rubbed with organic rosemary sprigs. But the recent revival of attention to it fits neatly into the modern renaissance of handcrafted food, heirloom agriculture, and using food in its season.”
The Washington Post followed with a story on the economics of canning and an inane companion piece called “Two Bloggers, One Hot Trend,” which follows two DC food bloggers on their virgin tomato canning expedition. “The process,” writes Kelly DiNardo, “took an entire weekend, coating the tan counters of their Adams Morgan kitchen with pools of sweet juice and resulting in 26 quarts of tomatoes they’re still eating their way through. Just recently, those tomatoes sated a craving for gazpacho.”
But the apex of the anxious canning-trend-story trend is Sarah Karnasiewicz’s piece in Salon. Critical of the DIY “professionals” who supposedly spear-headed the trend, and deeply suspicious of the argument that canning is cost-effective (perhaps it would be more cost effective if you didn’t buy your produce at the Fort Greene Farmers’ Market), Karnasiewicz saps the joy out of what might otherwise be good old-fashioned fun.