You’ve probably heard of CSA’s, right? That stands for “Community Supported Agriculture,” and generally refers to a system in which consumers purchase shares of a local farm’s produce. (Here’s a link to Local Harvest, where you can search for a CSA in your area.) We joined a CSA this year for the first time and are eating much better than usual as a result, so I thought you might like to see some pictures of our shares so far this season, and read my thoughts on the whole idea.
Our CSA is run by Maple Creek Farm in Yale, Michigan. Each week for 20 weeks we’ll get a box of freshly-picked organic produce grown only a short distance from our home. Our first share was in early July this year, and we’ll be getting food through October as it ripens.
Aside from the obvious benefits to the environment, one of the other reasons we joined the CSA is to “force” me to eat more vegetables. I’ve fallen into some poor eating habits over recent years, and needed something to encourage me to eat more than potatoes (my fave veggie). I’m happy to report that it’s working. I even ate kohlrabi a few weeks ago, and I don’t think I’d ever even seen a kohlrabi before!
I don’t know about you and your local stores, but I’d grown so tired of walking around the grocery store and seeing produce that had traveled long distances over many days (weeks?) to get there. I notice lots of “Grown in Mexico” and “Grown in Chile” (or other S. American nations) stickers in our stores. And very few “Grown in Michigan.” Yes, the stores do carry Michigan cherries, blueberries, and apples in season, but that’s just about all I’ve ever noticed as far as local fresh fruits or veggies. We’re lucky to have a wonderful farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, but it’s too easy for me to skip the market.
So every Thursday I get to pick up our share from another member’s house (our CSA has multiple pickup points around the Detroit metro area) just a few miles from home. It’s always thrilling to open that box and see what’s in there. When I get home I have fun spreading it all out on the table and taking pictures of it while I figure out what to do with it. Our farmers, Danny and Michelle, send us an email each week telling us what to expect in our shares and giving us recipe ideas and food storage tips. They also keep us updated on what’s happening on the farm — how the weather is impacting our food, what might be ripe enough in coming weeks, etc. It’s really satisfying to know exactly who is growing our food, and to know that they’re not putting any chemicals on it or on the land.
And, as I said before, it’s helping to change my eating habits. Have you ever had produce rot in the bottom of the fridge because you forgot about it or just procrastinated using it? I think we’ve all probably experienced that. But now that I know about how much work goes into producing this delicious and nutritious organic food, I’m even more motivated to make sure none of it goes to waste. And, as Martha Stewart would say, that’s a good thing — for us and for the planet.
If you think you might like to become a locavore (someone who tries to eat food produced within a certain radius of home), you might want to read this article by Jennifer Maiser called “10 Steps to Becoming a Locavore.” I like her attitude that every little bit helps and that you don’t need to feel discouraged if you can’t do all 10 steps.
Before I get off this subject….I was doing some reading on David Suzuki’s blog and found lots of interesting articles about sustainable farming, global food supply, and more. In one article he says:
The social and environmental benefits of eating local are also compelling. The globalization of food supply means that, on average, most of our food has to travel some 2,400 kilometres from field to table, resulting in enormous emissions of greenhouse gases and other atmospheric pollutants from the millions of trucks, container ships, trains, and other vehicles required to transport food around the planet.
Clearly every little bit we can do to reduce transportation of our food over long distances will help the planet. If you want to read more, go here.