Photo by psrobin.

In case you think pickling is just another excuse to put Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein in goofy wigs, think again. Along with products like jam, flour, and beef jerky, pickles count as “value-added” foods, and they’re at the core of what it will take for the local food movement to mature beyond an easily parodied trend.

You see, without these higher-value, less perishable products, farmers and ranchers working at a small, sustainable scale and selling their products locally can rarely make a real living. In addition to the home food preservation trend, small businesses are also working to fill the gaps that exist between heavily processed, industrial foods and local produce — and the result is often minimally processed “value-added products.” Such products allow farmers to extend their season, providing a way for locavore consumers to, say, eat peaches in February, and — perhaps more important — providing a product for farmers to sell long after peach season is gone.