Community Supported Agriculture is a growing phenomena and if you haven’t guessed, I think that’s a good thing. And I’m tickled by the variations that I’m seeing. ArizonaKnitter recently posted about the CSA that she joined which is focused on yarn and fiber. At one of my kid’s schools, they’ve embraced a slighty marked up CSA program as a weekly fundraiser. But to what end? Why should you participate in Community Supported Agriculture?
Here are my top ten reasons for joining a CSA:
1. Keeps my dollars in the local economy. Since my previous post on this topic, a more recent study by Local Works examined the impact of local business on West Michigan economies. Their research shows that 73 cents of every dollar spent with a local business stays local versus 43 cents when spent with a non-local business. Farms are considered local business.
2. We’re eating fruits and vegetables that are pulled right out of the ground. According to Preston Andrews, PhD, an associate professor of horticulture at Washington State University, “Nutrients in most fruits and vegetables start to diminish as soon as they’re picked, so for optimal nutrition, eat produce within 1 week of buying.”
3. Food travels less distance to get to my plate. In Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, her husband wrote that if every American ate only one locally grown meal each week, we’d reduce our country’s weekly oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels.
4. I get to know a farmer and create community. I’ve visited Desert Roots Farm. I’ve spoken with farmer, Kelly Saxer. I know that she uses sheep to weed around the edges and that she’s in constant contact with other farmers. The Japanese call this teikei or putting a face on our food.
5. We eat seasonally and get things that make more sense to grow in the desert. Even though we live in a global marketplace and have the ability to frequent global sourced grocery stores, eating seasonally cuts down on the food miles mentioned in reason #3. Local farmers find options that grow well in our climate and with less water. In many cases, they participate in seed saver programs to keep those authentic crops available.
6. We try new things. Before joining my CSA, I’d never eaten a Jerusalem Artichoke or sauteed turnip greens. I didn’t like beets and thought kohlrabi was a distant memory from my youth.
7. I cook more. We do our weekly menu planning after seeing what’s in our CSA share. Our meals are more vegetable focused and that’s good for many reasons.
8. I have an opportunity to share. There are times when I don’t use it all during the week and at those times, I bag up a few items for a friend or send a dish to a neighbor.
9. My kids know the names of vegetables whether or not they like them. One of the more horrifying moments of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution for me was Jamie in a first grade classroom holding up celery and the children exclaiming, “Pear”. Many truly have a disconnected education regarding where their food comes from.
10. It creates something wonderful to blog about. I really enjoy seeing what’s in my weekly delivery and while my blog topics have strayed from time to time, food, our connections to it and the lessons that we learn in life’s kitchen continually inspire me.