Eating right the CSA way
My wife and I just invested a few hundred dollars that we hope will give great returns… all summer. Not exactly the “long-view” strategy for stocks, but it works for food. Specifically, organically-grown local produce from a farm about ten miles from our house. We invested in community-supported agriculture, or CSA.
We both recently read Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food, whose succinct tagline is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I’d say it was eye-opening, but much of what it contained was stuff we already knew. In short: stay away from food that’s more a product of a lab than the earth. Much of the book talked about the benefits of eating not just more vegetables, but vegetables that are grown organically and to the extent possible, locally. His reasons are not just tree-hugging hippie ones, either; he explains how giant, commercial farming has reduced the potency of our produce and why smaller, organic farms provide better quality food for us.
Lake Forest Park, the town adjoining ours, has a Farmer’s Market on Sunday afternoon, and we’ve been to Farmer’s Markets in Edmonds and Everett for years (my dad and uncle sell fuchsias and plants there) so we’re familiar with local produce. Other than fresh-baked pastries or kettle corn, we’d just not bought much at the markets. Since I’m a vegetarian we already eat more veggies than most, but after reading In Defense of Food, our mindset has changed. We’re “voting with our dollars,” as the saying goes by committing to 18 weeks’ worth of produce from Growing Washington. They’re a local growing cooperative that offers many programs, including the weekly produce box that we signed up for.
Beginning June 15 and running through mid-October, we can chose from among eight different crops—including eggs from truly free-range chickens—each week. On Sunday we just stop by the LFP Farmer’s Market and pick up our box. Sure, it’s a lot of veggies but I think having pre-paid for them will help us eat more produce. And that’s goal, right? (Or we can just share what we can’t get through with friends and family.)
As people try to get more healthy and as more and more “green” initiatives gain popularity, I think we’ll see a rise in CSA (here are some facts on CSA). Yes, right now it is an elitist method of obtaining food, favored by those who can afford it and are educated enough to know why the extra money is worth it. (A recent study by the American Dietetic Association showed that college-educated women are most likely to enjoy a healthier diet.) We can hope it will soon “trickle down” to middle- and lower-income families. Diet really is one of those areas where a small investment upfront can yield great savings from better health.
So if you come by for dinner this summer, expect to have some good veggies and a salad.
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