Most Influential: Founder Kim O'Donnel

Kim O'Donnel is not only a writer, but the founder of Canning Across America
Kim O'Donnel in the Seattle magazine studio, September 13, 2010

“It was like spontaneous combustion.” That’s how Kim O’Donnel describes the response to her off-the-cuff Twitter suggestion that maybe there should be a national day dedicated to canning. O’Donnel, a former Washington Post food writer who moved to Seattle two years ago (and who at the time of her Twitter post had canned only once before), was inspired by San Francisco’s Yes We Can food movement, which began in earnest in the summer of 2009.

The response to O’Donnel’s call for a “canvolution” was immediate, passionate and lasting. Today, what was once thought of as a chore happily relegated to generations past is now seeing a strong nationwide resurgence—and rebranding—known as Canning Across America (canningacrossamerica.com). O’Donnel has attracted to the endeavor what she calls “an ad hoc collective of cooks, gardeners and food lovers committed to the revival of the lost art of ‘putting by’ food.” The website publishes recipes, lists classes and encourages the organization of canning parties.

But why canning, and why now? “Canning forces you to slow down,” O’Donnel says with a wistful sigh. “You cannot multitask with your mobile device [when you’re canning]. And it’s better if you do it with another person.” Whereas so much of the cooking we do at home is hurried and solitary, O’Donnel cherishes the pace of putting by provisions for the months ahead. “There’s something about taking the time,” she says. O’Donnel’s first book, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour ($18.95; Da Capo Lifelong Books), was published in September.

Published November 2010

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