Canned foods are an affordable, convenient staple

Alison Springate Guelph Smart City Office • 9 March 2021

While fresh food is an essential part of any diet and Our Food Future is actively supporting initiatives that increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables – such as many of the winners of the Guelph-Wellington Urban Agriculture Challenge – we recognize that most households also rely on canned food for fast, economical and nutritious meals.

As lore has it, in 1795 a young French chef preserved food using champagne bottlesand revolutionized the food industry. Within a decade, storing food in tin cans was on its way to becoming a global standard. Canning food helps it last longer, reduces waste and the canning process preserves the majority of the food’s nutritional value, making canned foods an easy way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Delicious on their own, canned foods are also great base for a creative meal. Adding canned beans to soups or stews contributes extra flavour and protein, canned fruit and an instant oatmeal packet are the start a fast and delicious cobbler and canned soups and vegetables can easily come together with meat for a family meal.

If you have had some cans in your cupboard for many years, that’s okay. As with fresh food purchases, “best before” dates are not to be confused with “expired.” Get to know your food labels and utilize your sense of smell to tell if food has gone bad. High acid foods such as tomatoes and other fruit will keep their best quality up to 18 months while low acid foods such as fish, meat and vegetables can last many years.

If cans are in good condition (no dents, swelling, or rust) and have been stored in a cool, clean, dry place they are likely safe. Although the food may not be as fresh or flavourful, it’s certainly edible.

What’s your “can-do” receipt? Tell us about your favourite meal using canned meat, fruit or vegetables.