Botulism starts with a dry mouth and trouble swallowing. Then it progresses to blurred or double vision and drooping eyelids. Next it's an onslaught of slurred speech and muscle fatigue. Untreated, botulism culminates in muscle paralysis and--in the most severe cases--respiratory failure. Recovering from botulism paralysis requires the growth of new nerve endings and can sometimes take months.
Though it's a rare illness--there are usually around 145 cases a year reported in the United States according to cdc.gov--approximately 15 percent of them come from improperly home-canned items with low acidity--asparagus, green beans, corn or beets.
If botulism sounds sucky to you but you still want to find a safe way to preserve your garden's bounty this fall, the North End Organic Nursery has the solution. On Saturday, Sept. 11, and again on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., it's offering a special canning, pickling and dehydrating class. The class will cover which foods are safe to can in a water bath and which ones need pressure canners. For $10, you'll receive basic supplies and the peace of mind that you and botulism won't be kicking it paralysis-style anytime soon.