CSA: Community Supported Agriculture. A practice in which households purchase a year-long share of produce from a local farm and receive a weekly allotment as the growing season progresses.”
If you read any of the current literature about the mass-produced food industry it will scare you. Feed lots, e coli, pesticides, all of it daunting and seeming like a disaster waiting to happen.
One way to mitigate these dangers is the CSA. The way most CSA’s work is that a household will purchase a share at the beginning of the year and receive a bag of locally grown, in-season produce throughout the year or at least throughout the peak growing season.
The food is consumed in its prime, it is not transported across hemispheres, and it is typically grown using organic and bio-dynamic farming techniques.
In the case of my family we joined one called the Spiritual Food for the New Millennium. They supplement the locally grown produce with yogurt and cheese from a dairy farm, genuinely whole grain bread and pasta from a bakery, and some grains and legumes from outside the area.
Most are simpler, and provide produce only for the three seasons excluding winter.
It does require one to cook. Vegetables are a lot of work because they almost always need to be peeled and chopped. They also need to be made interesting because while it’s exciting when that first butternut squash arrives in September, it is starting to get a little old by January so you have to be creative.
Our family also eats meat, but one of the great benefits of this program is that it has greatly de-emphasized the role of meat in our meals. I will still cook beef, chicken, pork and lamb, but often the only meat will be some bacon to flavor collard greens, or ground beef added to an otherwise vegetable sauce.
The benefits for our family are obvious. I can easily spot a vegetable from out of season now because the flavor just isn’t there! We tend to work so hard on energy-saving activities like turning out lights when we leave a room, but then will often go buy a 4-lb melon that was grown in South America and shipped all the way to the US! That took a lot more energy than the lightbulb in my closet ever will!
So if you think this might be for you, I encourage you to find a CSA with a distribution point near your house or work, and one whose program works for your household.
Here is a link that will lead you to hundreds of local CSA’s.
Can you please write a note in your blog about the white bean/ground beef dish that you made while I was there in the fall??
I’ll get to work on it, thanks Elizabeth!
I am also in Arlington. Which CSA do you belong to? Thanks for resurrecting the newsletter. Too bad about the catering business – that was the best deal going for a busy mom, so we did appreciate the convenience and luxury of your cooking while it was available.
I made shredded beef tacos two nihgts ago and used leftovers for taco salad tonite. This just might have to be round three with the remaining meat. Looks fantastic!