As a gardener I take great pride in everything I harvest. I know pretty much everything about my garden; I even know the names of most of the plants. I remember all the scary moments and I think I remember every time I saw the first signs of fruit production. The combination of watching my own food grow right in front of my eyes and the pride I feel knowing exactly how it was produced is indescribable. And being able to share my harvest with my friends and family is somehow even better.
Unfortunately for most of us, no matter how big our garden is, there is no way we can feed ourselves and our families all year long. And a trip to the grocery store is exactly that, a trip. Barely anything is grown locally. Actually, almost everything is a product of Mexico or Honduras or Chile. Fruits and vegetables look different and they taste different. They are too big and many of them are even genetically modified.
What’s missing is peace of mind. Who grew it, how did it get here, and what hormones did they use to make it so big? It’s crazy to think that we know absolutely nothing about the food we eat everyday but we don’t. As a rule, most people try to avoid hormones and pesticides in their diet. But if we shop at a major grocery store, this is exactly what we get. Yet we keep eating without thinking of the short or long term ramifications.
Finally Some Options
But at least we are starting to have some options. There is a movement going on throughout the world and it’s called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Community Supported Agriculture is system where consumers form partnerships with farmers and eliminate the middlemen. It’s pretty much the best way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food, directly from farmers in their area.
The partnership formed between the consumer and the farmer is pretty unique. Farmer’s sell “shares” of their crop to consumers in advance. Typical shares average about 400 dollars for the entire 22 week season. These shares are paid for upfront and the money is spent on items like seeds, fertilizers, and equipment. What makes this relationship unique is that the farmers and consumers all share in the risk if something were to go wrong with the crop.
This is a great relief for the farmers and gives them incentives to produce environmentally responsible food for the community without the risk of losing their farms if the crop doesn’t turn out. Additionally, farmers get money throughout the season, not just at the end of the harvest. This money is spent throughout the year in the community and is kept in the community, resulting in a better economic situation for local merchants and the community as a whole. .
As a consumer there are tons of advantages. Financially it’s great. On average, CSA members pay about 20 dollars a month and receive about 2.5 times more produce than they would at the super market. But the financial aspect is really the least exciting part. The food is fresh and produced in an ethically and in an environmentally correct manner. Not only are you supporting your local farmer and your community, but you’re eliminating the need to transport food half way across the world.
On average produce travels 2,000 miles from the farm to the market. Because of this, agriculture is geared toward cultivating crops better suited for shipping and maintaining longer shelf lives. CSA’s are different. Local farmers grow crops bred for taste and that’s it; food goes from the farm to your home in a matter of days not weeks.
Seeing Is Believing
The best thing about CSA’s is the opportunity to visit the farms personally. Most CSA’s offer the opportunity to come and check out the farm or even lend a hand. It’s an opportunity to get a first hand look at the place that feeds you. Something you would ordinarily never be able to do.
Living in San Diego, our options are pretty much unlimited. Surprisingly, San Diego County is home to more certified organic farms than any other county in the nation. We have it all; dairy, exotic fruits, peppers, honey, and so much more. Whatever your preference San Diego has a farm from you. This means unbelievable options are just a few miles away.
Click here to find a CSA in your neighborhood!