Tasting Table Asks: What Food Do You Never Buy Canned? - Exclusive Survey

There's a lot to be said for food in a can, and perhaps the biggest advantage of canned food is that it keeps for a long time. A very long time, in fact. While you may have to toss unused food that's outlived its expiration date from your refrigerator, the USDA says "canned goods will last for years, as long as the can itself is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling)." People stocked up on canned food during the pandemic, either because they wanted shelf-stable food in order to minimize contact with people for fear of getting sick or because they wanted to ensure there was an ample supply of food in the face of the shortages we all experienced at the grocery store.

And certain foods make sense to keep in the pantry for the sake of convenience. Most of us, even if we have a garden and grow our own vegetables, don't live in a climate where we can walk outside and pick fresh tomatoes all year long. We wondered, though, which foods Tasting Table readers avoid purchasing in cans. We asked 588 of you which food you never buy canned from the following options: meat, beans, tomatoes, fruit, and chili.

More than 60% of you avoid buying this food in cans

About 62% of Tasting Table readers never buy canned meat, and we're not terribly surprised. In fact, when we wrote an article about the 10 worst foods to buy canned, three of them were meat: corned beef, sausages, and canned whole chicken. Whether it's the gelatinous texture, the abundance of sodium, or just the whole darn idea, canned meat isn't jumping off the shelves into many grocery carts. Or perhaps it's the phenomenon Sylvie Kim observed, writing for Hyphen Magazine that Spam, in particular, has become "synonymous with poverty or 'trashiness' in American pop culture."

Meat isn't the only canned food our readers avoid, though. Chili came in a distant second place, with about 13% of you preferring to make it rather than buy it. Canned fruit was also unpopular, with 12% of you avoiding that purchase. Canned tomatoes are shunned by about 7% of readers, and about 5% of you avoid buying canned beans. Discovering which foods people prefer to buy fresh rather than canned is an interesting peek into the different ways in which we choose to eat and prepare foods. And it makes us wonder how many of our readers will be tempted by the new limited release of Spam's newest flavor, Spam Figgy Pudding.