Before I begin, let’s take a minute to think about where our food comes from… the supermarket, a restaurant, even the corner gas station. Ok, but where does our food really come from?
Much of the food we eat, we have to import. Items like coffee, sugar, mangoes, tea and bananas have to be shipped from places that can actually grow that particular crop. For Americans, our food typically travels 1500 miles on average from farm to plate. That’s a lot of fossil fuels and carbon emissions. And, since food is traveling so far, most of it is picked when it is unripe so that it does not spoil. To ripen this produce, it is usually “gassed” to make it ripen or preserved with chemicals to keep it from ripening too fast. Oh, and not to mention that many scientists are working on genetically-modified produce that takes longer to spoil. Yummy.
So what about American food staples like potatoes, apples, and corn? Most of America’s agriculture is done on huge corporation-controlled “farms”. These crops are usually genetically modified, hosed with an array of pesticides, and/or completely homogeneous. Corn, as an American crop, then most often ends up in an everyday item at the grocery store through further modification (chips, soda, cookies, crackers, popsicles, ice cream… the list goes on).
We’ve signed up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) program a few times over the years. Community Supported Agriculture is exactly what the name implies, a way to support local farms while getting your fresh veggies. Although every CSA is different because you sign up through individual and independent farms, this program enables you to receive weekly or bi-weekly boxes of fresh, local produce. Many farms have a variety of box sizes as well, with the types of produce depending on the farm itself and what is in season.
The boxes that we have gotten (from several different farms) have all been packed full of beautiful, fresh fruits and vegetables. I have tried things that I have never eaten before, and even discovered that the greens on top of vegetables like carrots and beets are edible and absolutely delicious. It is always a fun surprise to see what is in the box and trying out new recipes to use them all.
Signing up for a CSA is not only beneficial to those of us who like to cook, it’s an awesome way to support your community and reduce your ecological footprint. By buying from a local farmer instead of a massive industry-owned farm, you are supporting others locally plus, because most small farms use wiser and kinder farming practices, you are supporting local land.