You thought I was going to say organic, huh? Anywho, I am super excited because today is my first pickup for the CSA I recently joined. What is a CSA you ask? Well, its short for Community Supported Agriculture. It’s a great way to support your local community, get amazingly fresh produce, become more aware about the “seasonality” of fruits and veggies. Most CSA’s basically works like this:
In the Spring, you invest in a particular farm in your area. You hypothetically buy a share of the farm in return for fresh, delicious produce during the growing season. Most CSA’s have 20-22 week programs. So, for 20-22 weeks, you drive to a local pick-up location once each week and pick up your fruits and vegetables. CSA’s range in price, but most average around $30-40 per week, depending on your share. Some farms offer different size shares, some do not. While most farms require you to pay upfront, there are many that offer payment plans. While it may seem like a lot of money up front, the farmer needs to make sure that you are totally invested and do not decide to quit half way through the growing season. Makes sense.
The farm I hooked up with is Full Circle Farm, located in Carnation WA. They actually offer weekly payment plans, and you can join anytime. This worked out great for me, since I was just a little busy in the Spring with my newborn baby (hope you caught the sarcasm!). They are also year round, which is another plus. I signed up for a small box ($30) and here’s what the contents included: a pint of raspberries, 1 lb. of apricots, 1 lb. of plums, 1 head of green lettuce, 1 cucumber, 1 lb. or red potatoes, a bag of spinach, a bunch of yellow carrots, 4 nectarines, 3/4 lb. green beans, a mango, and a bunch of yellow beets. 75% of the produce was all grown at the farm, while the rest of it was grown locally with “sister” farms, I guess you could call them (except the mango). I was so excited to recieve it, I think I tried a little of everything before I put it in the fridge!
If you visit the site, you will notice that all of the produce is certified organic, which is really good to know. I haven’t had a chance to actually talk to any of the farmers yet, but next time I visit the local farmer’s market, I will be sure to hit them up with some questions. Why, you ask? Well, I have recently come upon some research, and right now I just don’t know how I feel about the whole “organic” movement. From what I have been reading, the entire system is corrupt. When the government gets involved, that’s pretty much bound to happen I guess. I mean it’s pretty evident when you start thinking about the slew of products that carry the organic label. I am sorry, but macaroni and cheese in a box should not be “organic”. Sure, the wheat used to make the pasta could be, but powdery. yellow cheese should not. The entire “organic” movement has been stolen from a bunch of down-to-the-earth-biodynamic farmers and become something far too processed and far to commercialized. While I think its good that its has caught on to the mass public (like myself), I find myself having conflicting opinions about the whole process. Did you know that in 2005, the Organic Stanards Board (with an outlash from many organic farmers) approved a long list (low 30’s if I remember correctly) of synthetic ingredients that are allowed in USDA certified organic foods?? To me that’s a total contradiction!! I even read one story about a person witnessing workers stuff conventional produce into bags labeled organic.! Craziness! Anyways, I could go on for ever about all of the info I have been learning, but the bottom line is, if you want to make sure that your produce is coming from a good place, visit your local farmers markets and TALK to some farmers. Ask questions. Many of the farmers in this area aren’t USDA certified organic, but I’ve asked questions and gotten great responses as well as invitations to visit some farms. (USDA certification costs an arm and a leg by the way… a lot more than most can afford).
There are some great resources out there if you want to tap into your community’s resources. Local Harvest is one of my favorites. If you are in the Seattle area, Seattle Tilth is an excellent resource for not only CSA’s but anything under the farming sun. You can even learn how to raise chickens in your own backyard! (more on this to come) And if there isn’t a CSA in your area, farmers markets are another great way to make sure that all of your dollar goes directly to the farmer (not just 19 cents of it).
Purchasing power is the greatest power we, as consumers, have. I would even argue that it is greater than our right to vote. With your purchases, you send a strong message…more powerful than you may realize.
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