Monday, April 16, 2007


I'm fortunate enough to live in one of the few areas of the US, maybe even the world, where eating according to the 100 mile diet entails very little work. Northern California produces tons of great food year round, so there's really no excuse not to eat local. Having read "The Omnivore's Dilemma", and read/watched "Fast Food Nation", I'm always grumbling about the industrialized food chain, and global warming, and on and on... so, long story short, my husband and I decided to put our money where our mouths are - literally! - and join a local CSA.

For those not familiar with the term, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Essentially, you pay a monthly or yearly fee to a local farm and in return get a share of the farm's produce every week (or every other week). Different farms operate differently - some are organic and others are not, some sell extra produce to restaurants and some don't, some require money up-front for planting season while others let you join anytime, some deliver straight to your door and others have only a few pickup locations, they can have 50 members or 1000 - but the basic idea is the same. You support local farmers, and you get to eat the freshest and most flavorful fruits and veggies the area has to offer. And I do mean flavorful! Since the produce isn't being shipped long distances or stored for long periods of time, farmers can choose to plant varieties that have been bred for their taste rather than their hardiness. Also cool, most CSAs aren't super expensive. We're getting a box of freshly picked fruits and veggies, "enough to feed two vegetarians" for a week, for about $20 per box, which is on the cheap side for certified organic.

The Bay Area offers a lot of CSAs, so I had my work cut out for me in picking one. Ultimately, we settled on Terra Firma Farms - they're a fairly large CSA, so they grow a big variety of fruit and vegetable crops, and don't have to supplement using produce that's grown further away, which was important to me. Plus, they have a pickup spot that's close to our new apartment, not to mention two extremely cute bulldog mascots.

I'm really looking forward to getting CSA produce again. Back when we lived in Massachusetts, we had a work-share with the Heirloom Harvest CSA (instead of paying cash, we put in 8 hours of work on the farm each week to earn our shares), and it introduced me to all kinds of vegetables that I would normally have skipped right over in the grocery store. I also loved the "challenge" of eating seasonally, both in the winter (how many variations on kale and white bean soup can you come up with?) and in the summer (can you make enough salsa and pasta sauce to use up this week's haul of tomatoes?); it seemed like there was always SOMETHING on hand to inspire me to cook. I'm especially excited about the prospect of trying out new recipes and posting 'em here.

If you're interested in joining a CSA, has a tool to help find one close to you... and they really are a great way to do something good for the planet, your local economy, your health and your wallet, all at the same time. It's a win/win/win/win!

And just for fun, here's a cute movie I came across to promote local organics in a clever way: Store Wars.

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