Can canners still trust the Ball Blue Book, cornerstone of the American canning canon?

Last August, the Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach—the arm of the land-grant university that works directly with farmers, business owners, and families on practical science applications—quietly informed 4-H members that canned goods made with recipes from the Ball Blue Book would no longer be accepted for exhibits at county fairs. A year later, the news that ISU Extension was no longer recommending the Ball Blue Book, not just to 4-H, but to any home canner, roiled the Canning subreddit, an online community with nearly 80,000 members.

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The Counter: Traditional CSAs struggle to compete against greater convenience and choice

There have never been more ways to get fresh produce sent to your home, from basic grocery delivery services; to “misfit” and “ugly” veggie startups; to bespoke, plant-based meal kits. But at the end of the day, what’s in a veggie box? Is it merely a collection of assorted produce, or is it a value system? Do you spend those dollars simply to fill your fridge, or are you also trying to support small farmers and local agriculture? Does it matter if the items are USDA-certified organic, or if some items are grown several states away?

As veggie box delivery companies have proliferated, some small-scale farmers say it has become harder to run traditional community supported agriculture (CSA) operations, in which consumers buy a “share” of a local farm’s harvest at the beginning of the growing season. In return for this investment, share owners get a box of whatever produce was harvested. There’s an inherent gamble, in that the consumer shares the risks associated with farming. If it’s a bad year for tomatoes, they may not get any tomatoes.

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