My wife and I recently joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program through her workplace. I had toyed with the idea some years back, largely for political reasons, but we never felt like we could spare the money. After all, in most cases you need to front the entire membership cost, several hundred dollars, in the spring. I this case, her workplace fronted the money and they then recoup it through a payroll deduction- an interesting method that more employers should experiment with.
This CSA business is another interesting synchronicity in my life since I started LibMyLife. I needed to eat more vegetables to lose weight, and at a cost about $27 a week- I am inundated with vegetables!
Look at that pile. Fennel? What do I do with fennel? Holy cow! How much salad can three people eat in a week? What the sam frick is a garlic scape?!
Wait… You can eat the greens from the beets and carrots and stuff, too?! They didn’t teach me that stuff as a child!
As I mentioned elsewhere, I did not grow up eating many fresh vegetables. I grew up in a pretty standard suburban MegaMart mentality. Many of my veggies were overcooked because that’s the way my parents were taught. I dare say that for many Americans, the idea that a vegetable could be overcooked is a recent revelation. Here, eat your broccoli- nevermind that it’s a bland, grey mass of mush with little remaining nutrition…
This has, of course, helped feed the rise of the government-funded fast food triumvirate- big agriculture, big food processors, and big biochemical companies. None of these industries are in the business of nutrition, they are in the business of supplying tasty calories at rock bottom prices. I can’t honestly blame them- we asked for this… and overcooked veggies are part of the reason.
Now we need to ask for something better. While joining a CSA has certainly been a challenge for me- more to my culinary skills and palate than to our wallets, I sincerely believe that we are better for the experience. My clothes are looser, for one thing.
I also know where my veggies are coming from. This is vastly important. If you haven’t watched Food, Inc. or Fresh– I sincerely suggest that you look them up. You can get them from my Amazon links, but I also found them on Netflix in the instant watch section.
Both documentaries depict a whole range of problems with our modern industrial agriculture model, as well as possible solutions. Of the two, I’d say I enjoyed Fresh more. I think it was more upbeat, while still getting the message that we need a new food paradigm across loud and clear.
Finally, from a standpoint of our own financial liberation- buying your food locally keeps your food dollars closer to home. While it’s great to shop at a mom & pop grocery store, most of us don’t have that option anymore. Most Americans do, however, live within reach of some form of community supported agriculture. A lot of farmers have figured out how to bring this service right into the heart of our urban centers- you can join a CSA in many parts of New York City, for example!
I know that in my household, we are already talking about next year’s CSA options… are you?