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Food Preservation

Essay by wangy51  •  March 26, 2019  •  Term Paper  •  2,665 Words (11 Pages)  •  55 Views

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History, en-laced with many wars, revolutions, and power struggles, has steered the human race towards development. During periods of critical times the most life changing inventions have been created that affect lives even today. Some of these have a major impact that is taken advantage of and looked over, such as the canning process. There has been much advancement in technology and new inventions as the world has advanced, but without the invention of the canning process, many inventors and discoverers may not have been alive to accomplish their great feats.
Preservation was not just inspired by food but also in conserving the human body this process called mummification. The body would be taken and removed of all moisture meaning all organs were removed as well, except for the heart as it was thought to be the soul. They dried the body with natron, a type of salt, and then began to wrap the body with hundreds of yards of linen. This process took seventy days to complete because retaining the normal figure of the body was an extremely important matter to them, as they believed the body was the soul’s home. This process can be compared to how food was preserved and may have inspired the act in doing so ("Egyptian mummies").
Preserving foods was not exactly an easy process. Salt preserving, like mummification, was one method used, though not very often as salt was expensive and not easy to obtain. However, when provided the opportunity to gather salt, the meat or fish would be dry-salted, buried in granular salt, or brine-cured, soaked in strong salt water. Another process that was mostly used in Europe was preserving by drying, which was mostly used on fish. They place the food in the dry cool air until it was dried through, later to be wrapped in linen. As time passed, ways that are more inventive were discovered to save food (“Food Preservation”).
Nicolas Appert discovered the canning process. He was a French chef and distiller but was very well known for his confectioner abilities. During the Napoleonic wars, the French offered an award to anyone who could come up with a way to keep food from spoiling, so Appert began to experiment. It took fourteen years but eventually he discovered that if he used corked-glass containers reinforced with wire and sealing wax and boiled it in water for various lengths of time that it kept food safe. He received the twelve thousand franc reward and published his findings as was detailed in the conditions. He took the money to open the very first commercial cannery called the House of Appert (“Nicolas Appert”).
The French offered the award for two main reasons. The first was that soldiers were dying from food poisoning, starvation, and diseases. “An army marches on its stomach” were the words of Napoleon. The food would spoil and most would not eat it, but some would eat the rotting moldy food resulting in death by illness or starvation. The second was sailors contracting scurvy. Sailors mostly ate salt-cured foods, which lose most of their nutrients during the curing process. This caused a lack in Vitamin C, which causes scurvy. So in order to prevent these main issues the French had to act and Appert responded.
After Appert’s discovery, Peter Durand came behind him and reformed the method that Appert used. He used metal cans instead of glass as they were not as easily broken and by 1813 canned food was available to the community. Bryan Donkin and John Hall created the first commercial canning factory using Durand’s patent for tin cans. However, cans were difficult to open. Most people would use a large knife or bang them against hard objects until thirty years later when the can opener was created. These inventions allowed sailors to travel farther and soldiers to fight for longer periods of time (Couture, Lisa).
The canning industry bloomed and prospered in Baltimore. It was a great area with good soil and a prosperous growing climate (Cobb, G. W., W. I. Cox, et al). However, the large accomplishments in Baltimore most people relate canning to Manfred Weiss. He founded Hungary’s first canning factory in Budapest with Bertold his brother. Their company soon turned into the major supplier to the Austro-Hungarian army. The army caused the company to expand. In 1892, the Weiss brothers founded the country’s first ammunition factory and co-founded the Hungarian Textile Industry Company.
Weiss wanted his factories to produce all materials related to his products and created one of the country’s most significant roll mills. This led to the expansion to the production of artillery ammunition, army ovens, mobile kitchens, and military cooking boxes. After World War I Istvan Tisza, former prime minister, stated, “Only two things came through: the heroism of our sons and the productivity of Manfred Weiss.” The canning company prospered until Weiss’s suicide attempt where his company slowly declined (Varga, László).
Canning today is much safer compared to what it used to be as technology has advanced to help with the process, but why does food spoil? Fresh foods have a high percentage of water, which inhibits microorganisms to grow, reaction to oxygen, and activity to enzymes. The bacteria Clostridium botulinum causes botulism, which is on most fresh food surfaces. It can only grow in anaerobic atmospheres, which are found in canned foods that have not been properly processed. Improperly processed can foods are mostly found in-home canned foods whose steps to prevent this from happening were not properly taken. 
These toxins can be destroyed by boiling the product for thirty minutes at one hundred seventy-six degrees Fahrenheit. However, once these toxins are in the body they start to affect the nervous system destroying motor controls. They disrupt vision, speech, swallowing, and if not treated soon within first symptoms, paralysis of the respiratory muscles can occur. If this happens, it could lead to suffocation. The first symptoms appear eighteen to thirty-six hours after ingesting the bacteria. People who have been subjected to the toxin but have yet to show symptoms are given botulinus antiserum which reduces the mortality rate from sixty-five percent to ten percent (“Botulism”).
However, technology has advanced to prevent food-borne illnesses they are still common to the United States. Over nine million people a year contract a food-borne illness caused by major pathogens. The key is to prevent this from happening. To do this the origin of the bacteria has needs to be discovered, so when an outbreak is reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention they found out the number of affected people, food vehicle description, and ingredients. They then test each ingredient to isolate the contaminated substance. The food vehicle infected more than sixty-five percent. Knowing ahead of time the possible infections can prevent the wide spread infections of people with food-borne illnesses.
The distribution of infections varies from different products and illnesses. Eighteen percent of bacterial illnesses were attributed to dairy, eighteen percent poultry, and thirteen percent beef. Forty-six percent of hospitalizations were attributed to land animal commodities. The different illnesses make it difficult to locate an outbreak that is not contained in a single area. However, it was discovered that forty-six percent of all illnesses causing death were related to poultry (Angulo, Frederick, Tracy Ayers, et al).
Starvation affects people as well as food-borne illnesses. Hunger can affect the brain and cause normally healthy people to act on instinct. Hunger can delay development such as reading, language, memory, and problem solving abilities as it encumbers the ability to focus. Vitamin A deficiency can cause severe eyesight issues and may even blind a human. Malnutrition can even affect a child in the womb by causing brain damage due to the lack of iodine in the mother. It can also lower the IQ and affect the decision making process. When exposed to prolonged hunger damaging chemicals are released into the brain, which may cause death ("Affect of Hunger: The Brain”).
People who are desperate for food can give in to irrational behavior. In North Korea, crime has spiked and public execution is given to those who murder, revert to cannibalism, smuggle, and rob. People who are desperate for food are committing these acts. Refugees in North Korea say that the crimes include theft, cannibalism, and murdering children to process their flesh to look like pork. A family of five was executed for cannibalism. The father and mother would entice small children into their home drug them with wine, chop their bodies up, mix them with pork, and then sell them at the local market. Hunger affects the mind and reverts the brain back to its primal instincts (Kirk, Don).
Just as North Korea is today, starvation also led to crazed behavior in people of the past. In 1884, seventeen years after the discovery of canned food starvation led to a grotesque scene. Several men were left stranded in the arctic regions without food but among these men was a surgeon. When rescuers found the men, they also stumbled upon the bodies that had been skillfully dissected to be used as a source of food. The surgeon would skillfully remove the skin and remove the meat from within then place the skin back in its place a seamlessly sew the skin back. The normal eye would not have seen what had been done unless they observed the bodies in particular, as the job done by the surgeon was consummate.
However, once the surgeon perished the evidence of the bodies became much more savage. These bodies in particular, as stated by the stranded men, floated away or became buried in the ice. Once the bodies were found the evidence showed that they had been consumed to the bone, including the body of the surgeon. The people that died of natural disease did not get consumed; however, those that did not luck out and died of scurvy suffered a different fate. When the men were discovered, a single man ran down the hill with blood from a fresh duck that he had eaten raw. Out of all the men, he was the only one with enough strength to carry himself to the safety of the rescuers. When the men began treatment they showed the signs of the horror they had to endure, such as calluses on their knees over a half inch thick from crawling on their hands and knees. Not one man wished to speak of what happened while they suffered ("Crazed by Starvation").
Tragedies such as these could have and can be prevented if only the knowledge of canning had been and was more wide spread throughout the world. Canning is a simple process with the ability to save the lives of millions from starvation, disease, and psychological problems. The first step is to gather glass jars and pick a recipe. Depending on the recipe or the items, such as meat or fruit, determines which process to use. Acidic foods can be canned in boiling water, however low-acidic foods such as vegetables and meats must be canned in a pressure cooker, and pickling a food usually calls for added vinegar. 
To start the actual process the jars that will be used must be sterilized by boiling them for ten minutes and never reuse two-piece lids. Then the product to be canned must be washed. As a precaution wash only a little at a time as to get the product as clean as possible. Remove the food from the water as soaking it will allow the food to lose flavor and nutrients. Next, the food will have to be packed according to the directions. This means that fruits and vegetables are able to be packed raw or preheated and then packed. Hot packing usually gives a better color and flavor to the product. When packing a head-space should be specified in the directions, which is the space left between the product and the top of the can. Any debris should be wiped clean from the lids after depositing the product into the jar.
After the product is in the jar, the actual canning process may commence. For high acid foods such as fruit, the boiling water bath procedure should be taken. The canner needs to be filled halfway with clean hot water. Then the filled jars should be placed in the canner one at a time. The water should be one to two inches above the jars, and if not, then more water should be added to it. Turn the heat to the highest setting and cover the canner until the water boils for the allotted time. After the time is up remove the lid and wait five minutes before removing the jars, then you can remove the jars one at a time, without tilting them. Place them on towels or a cooling rack to prevent breakage from placing them on a cold surface, and then let them sit for twelve to twenty four hours in order to cool.
The other method to take is the pressure canner procedure. Fill the canner with two to three inches of hot water and heat, but not to a boil. Place jars into the canner one at a time, allowing space in between them, in order to release steam. Attach the lid and leave the vent port open, while turning the heat to its highest setting. After it is heated, close the vent port. Start timing the process after the desired pressure is met for the product as required by instructions and adjust heat to maintain that steady pressure. When the allotted time has passed, turn the heat off and let it cool off naturally, allowing it to depressurize. Remove the jars once the canner has cooled and place on the towel or cooling rack to be cooled for twelve to twenty-four hours. Whether the pressure canner procedure or the boiling water bath procedure was taken, once the product has completely cooled it can be stored for years keeping foods that would normally spoil in only a few days fresh (We Can! The Canning Process).
Preserving has been around for thousands of years and just like canning, has been taken advantage of, but if only the fading knowledge of canning process can be taught to needy countries such as North Korea and everyday homes, then thousands of lives could possibly be saved. If canning was never discovered, history could have been much bleaker and many more great people would have perished from starvation, disease, and even cannibalism. Knowing the history of preservatives, knowing how to prevent food-borne illnesses, and knowing the process of canning is only the beginning to a great future.





Works Cited
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