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Industrial Revolution - Food Canning
Transcript of Industrial Revolution - Food Canning
The Industrial Revolution - Food Canning
By Jack Hill
By Jack Hill
The agricultural revolution (15th – 19th century) began as a result of an increase of more effective tools and farming techniques, resulting in higher amounts of food production. Many aspects of daily life changed and evolved during this period. One of the industries that were reshaped was the food industry. The agricultural revolution was affected and shaped by food canning as tin cans were an easy way to transport food over long distances. Famines are essentially localised food shortages. However, with the ability to buy and sell food over long distances, isolated famines were almost nullified. The invention of the tin can also reduced the amount of food wastage, as foods would take a longer time to expire than non canned foods. Furthermore, left over crops were now no longer left to rot, they could now be packaged for later use or trade. Larger farms could be made due to the fact that large quantities of food could be tinned and stored away, this would also help farmers survive winters or bad seasons where crops didn’t grow so well. Hi past Jack!
As the industrial revolution opened greater transport opportunities, food items could be shipped to varying destinations. Villages no longer needed to be self sufficient, they could now focus on growing the crops that best suited their land and climate and trade with farmers growing different crops. As the transport grew even further, so did the quantity of people that were accessible to trade with. No longer were communities limited to localised trade. Food could now be transported and traded over large distances. Some food items were suitable for long distance trading as they had a long storage life, like soups and salted meats. Other items were perishable and needed to be preserved. There became a need to develop a food storage system that would enable food items to be handled and transported without compromising the food. It was these circumstances that lead to the development and use of food canning.
The idea of the tin can first came into being when the French government decided to offer a cash reward for anyone who could come up with a cheap and effective method of preserving food. In 1809 Nicolas Appert observed that food cooked in air-tight glass jars wouldn’t spoil unless it leaked. Why the food was kept edible wasn’t discovered until 50 years later when Louis Pasteur (the discoverer of Pasteurisation) demonstrated the roll bacteria played in food expiry.
In 1810 Peter Durand patented a new process in the UK. This replaced glass jars with tin or wrought-iron canisters (cans). However he did not further his research on tin cans and sold his patent in 1811 to Brian Donkin and John Hall. In 1813 Brian and John opened the first commercial canning factory in England.
However, it is disputed that in 1772 the Dutch Navy developed an earlier technique of preserving food similar to the tin can. The Dutch would catch salmon, clean it, and boil it in brine and the place it in tin-plated iron boxes.
The famous 1845 Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin was in vain, John and his crew died of lead poisoning due to the lead in the solder of the tin cans. These tins were opened in 1939 and found to be completely edible (aside from the lead). Similarly, the plastic coating on the inside of modern cans contains bisephenol A. Seeping of this chemical into the cans contents is still being studied for potential health hazards.
The very first styles of tin cans were so thick that the only way to open them was with a chisel and a hammer. As tin cans became more sophisticated and thinner it led to the idea of can openers. In 1858 Ezra Warner patented the first can opener. However this can opener was not like the ones used today. This can opener consisted of a sickle, which pushed into the can and sawed around the edges. As this can opener consisted of essentially a bare knife it was too dangerous for domestic use. In 1866, J. Osterhoudt patented the tin can with a key opener that you can find on sardine cans. It wasn’t until 1870 that the design of the modern can opener was invented.
There were other factors which led to the evolution of food canning. One of these was that trading of all commodities was now accessible from far and wide. Where once people had only one choice of product from a local supplier, there was now an ever expanding source of suppliers. This brought about the introduction of market competition, with a competitive market fighting for consumers to buy their products, prices for food (and other products) went down. This led to an increase in “disposable cash” among the middle class. The majority of the middle class moved into cities and for perhaps the first time in history people were not spending their entire income on daily living and maintaining large village properties. With this “disposable cash” some people began to look for products to buy. Other people used their additional funds to invest in new ideas, inventions and techniques to increase productivity. One of the things to benefit from this cash investment was the tin can.
Another significant factor in the creation and expansion of the food canning industry was the accessibility of cheap labour. Labour became cheaper due to an increase of machines doing jobs better and faster (not to mention cheaper) than humans. Also as the agricultural revolution grew so did the average life expectancy rise and the death rate of infants decrease. In the 18th century the population double from 5 million to 10 million. This resulted in many people un-employed, meaning that the cost of labour went down as there were more people competing to gain entry into the workforce.
Initially, canned food was slow, labour intensive and also extremely expensive. As each tin had to be handmade and then cooked for 6 hours. Cheaper labour made tinned food more accessible because suppliers could afford employ more workers and therefore produce higher quantities of tins. In 1846 Henry Evans first invented a machine that could produce 60 tin cans per hour, this was a dramatic increase from the previous rate of 6.
Nowadays the can industry contributes more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy by providing jobs, paying taxes and purchasing local goods and services. Approximately 131 billion cans are produced each year in the United States. There are more than 170 can manufacturing plants in America alone. More than 26,000 Americans are directly employed by the can industry
Thank you for watching!