We hear a lot of terms being thrown around about the “best” way to source our food. Restaurants have big signs declaring their ingredients are “sustainably sourced” or “locally grown.” These are good, even great, practices when it comes to our food supply. But I know you’re sucking your teeth at me right now saying, “How, exactly, do you expect me to do this at home?”
I know, when you walk into your local grocery store, it’s hard enough to find organic produce let alone something you know is sustainable and locally grown. And farmer’s markets, if there even is one near you, is likely at an entirely inconvenient time (I’m look at you 11am on Thursdays) for a typical working adult.
This, Bombshells, is where a CSA comes in. CSA stands for Community Sustained Agriculture, and it’s awesome. The basic premise is that some brilliant person organized a way for a bunch of local people to each buy a portion of the harvest from local farmers (bear in mind, local may be anywhere within your state, but that’s way more local than being flown in from another country). The harvests are then split up among all the members and packed up for you to enjoy on a weekly, bi-weekly, or what-have-you schedule.
I started participating in CSA’s about eight years ago, when they were less sophisticated and more rudimentary around here. I dove in fast and hard, learning what it was like to truly eat what was in season. Imagine that scene in Beauty and the Beast at the morning market, except no one was singing, the food was doled out in plastic milk crates dropped off at a local church, and the highlight of the day was checking the “swap box” where someone might have left their carrots that week.
After a long winter of only turnips, beets and kale, I became disillusioned. There’s no denying that we have become accustomed to having all the produce we want, all year round, and I was jonesing for a piece of fruit! So, I skulked back to the grocery store for a few years, licking the root vegetable induced wounds of my ego. Yet, the nagging feeling that I could do better, especially here in California, drove me back into the world of CSA’s again about two years ago.
Wow have times changed! First, let’s thank the internet for all of the things made possible, including but not limited to, an amazing modern CSA where I can pick and choose what’s in my weekly box based on what will be available from participating farms that week. My CSA even delivers to my house every week.
Is it cheaper than the grocery store? No. But part of this whole sustainability thing is paying what food actually costs, and that’s something we do very little of in this country. By participating in a CSA, we’re keeping local farms in business, generational farms that are fighting to hang on in this industrialized world of agriculture. Not only that, we’re protecting the longevity of our soil and the ability to produce crops for generations to come.
If you’re concerned about the future of our food supply, value eating whole, nutritious foods and want to preserve the heritage and sustainability of our agricultural system, find out what Community Sustained Agriculture programs are in your area. It’s one of the easiest things you can do to make a big difference in the future of our food supply.
Tip: the best place to buy organic foods & snacks is at Vitacost.com!