Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Friendship Farm Friday

Like last year, Kent and I are members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. In the early spring, we buy a "share" of the farmer's projected harvest from Friendship Farms, which entitles us to a box of fresh, organic vegetables every Friday for the entire 20-week growing season.  The first week this was the haul, pictured above from left to right, top row: Easter egg radishes, spicy mesclun mix, arugula, spring mix lettuce.  From left to right, bottom row: rainbow chard, baby turnips, broccoli, bok choy. 

If you want to eat locally and sustainably, CSA  is the way to go.  There are many reasons why I love being a member of a CSA, let me count the ways...

1. I know exactly where this food was grown, how it was grown, who grew it.  My farmers, Susan and Laura, (yes, I like to think of these incredible women as MY farmers.) are incredibly transparent about their farming practices and members are allowed to tour the fields anytime.  I'm assured that this produce is grown in ways that is not harmful to the environment or to the farm workers.

2.  I know how fresh these veggies are (not picked more than 24 hours, before they get to my kitchen), and how many miles they traveled from farm to plate (17.5 miles).  Try getting that information from your Kroger produce manager!
3.  Working with vegetables this fresh makes cooking easy.  I feel like a giddy Alice Waters every Friday when I unpack my box of veggies.  The veggies are so flavorful because they're fresh and organic, and as a result, they don't need a lot of fussing over to taste good.  The mesclun mixed greens, for instance, have a lovely spicy complex flavor.  A short saute in good olive oil is all they need to be incredibly fabulous!  Getting unusual or unfamiliar vegetables in my box is inspiring--it pushes me to be a more creative (and more healthy) cook.  But, I also like the the using the recipes that Friendship Farms staff share in the weekly newsletter.  

4.  CSA subscriptions are an economical way to get high quality produce.  Each week's veggie box costs about $20.  I know I'd be hard pressed to buy this much organic produce in the grocery store at that price, and even if I did, it most likely would be grown industrial scale in California and shipped thousands of miles to me.  I know for some budgets paying several hundred dollars at once for food you don't see for weeks could be problematic, but I've found it evens out in the long run.  I have a very well stocked pantry, and I haven't went to the grocery store in 3 weeks!

5.  My CSA food dollar supports the local economy, rather than large conglomerates thousands of miles away.  In economically depressed, Northwestern Ohio, this is important.

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