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CSA is the Way

Posted Oct 10 2008 2:09pm

Yesterday I picked up my first share of vegetables and fruit from the organic farm on my campus where I am now a subscriber/member. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) allows you to literally subscribe to the farm, and by paying a certain amount as determined by the farm, you can pick up a box of fresh food each week, harvested straight from that farm.

This is wonderful for a variety of reasons. First, if you subscribe to an organic farm (or even to a smaller scale farm that is known not to use pesticides but just can't afford to go through the expenses of becoming organic certified) you know you are eating all organic or pesticide free vegetables and fruit.

Secondly, you are supporting the local farmers who work hard to compete with the large scale farm production companies.

Third, you are eating foods that are actually in season, something many of us seldom do anymore because of the availability of food from all over the world. That being said, fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables also have a taste that far surpasses any food that you buy that is normally not in season. (For a wonderful look into this, check our Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle )

This leads us to reason number four: because you are eating food locally and seasonally, it is not picked several weeks in advance before it is ripe in anticipation of the jet/truck/train/plane trip that will take it to its final destination, and therefore tastes much better.

Fifth, you are contributing to the eco-friendly movement by limiting the fuel costs associated with food transport. (If you haven't read Omnivore's Dilemna by now, you should. Pollan estimates that most of the food on your plate has traveled at least 1500 miles). Think of how much fuel it takes to ship those peaches from chili in the middle of the winter? Now, more than ever we should be thinking on ways to conserve both our fuel, and our money.

And sixth, you yourself may save money. For me, it costs about $20 a week for a small share, and I am working hard to use all the food. The box on Monday consisted of tomatoes, onions, peas, apples, cucumbers, bell peppers, chilis, and a variety of squashes. Not bad at all. The farm even provides a news letter with events, as well as recipes featuring some of the provided vegetables and fruits. On Monday night, we ate the best roasted squash I've ever had thanks to one of the recipes.

If you are interested in becoming a part of a CSA program, check out Local Harvest, and you can search for options near you. Some farms even have organic meat, poultry, and eggs available. While I know not everyone has access to a local farm, if you have the opportunity to be a part of a CSA I highly recommend it.
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