Beth Rankin grew up in the paved part of the Garden State so she is amused she has ended up working with farmers. After getting involved with the farm-to-table movement in West Virginia by helping establish a year-round indoor local food market, Beth started connecting with various organizations that work with Willamette Valley farmers. It was while working on an organic farm a few summers ago that the fact of food waste became painfully apparent. At all farms, a lot of edible food is put into compost piles or fed to animals because of their imperfections, but they have the same nutritional content as the ones that are shaped right. Beth says, “I really respect the work that our farmers do, so my way, beside buying as much local food as possible for our own table, is to help by preserving that surplus produce and offering shelf-safe food to people to enjoy year round.”
Can-Do Real Food started out with canning fruits into jams and vegetables into sauces. We make an amazing Loaded Pasta Sauce that not only tastes fresh, like it was just harvested, but is full of other produce (those funny shaped carrots are shredded and so are the watermelon-sized zucchinis.) All add nutritional value and the fussy eaters will never know.
Jams and jellies tend to unusual recipes; Beth feels you can buy simple jams anywhere, but offers special recipes like the “naughty” line, each jar with a tablespoon of some locally made liquor or have personality from some other ingredient.
Recently, Can-Do Real Food has branched into more dehydrated products, aiming for very easy to prepare meal mixes and supplements that people who camp and backpack will appreciate. These foods are designed to be ready to eat with just some water and minimal cooking and will be perfect in any household for a quick meal or when the power goes out and you can use your grill to boil up some water.
Is this art? No. But it is creative, no question about it. And reducing waste, including food waste, is a major component of a sustainable world.
Beth Rankin is one of the organizers of this festival and You can find her and Can-Do Real Food at Table #27 where you can taste the food before buying.