• Dr. AJ Gagliardi

Eating Well with Community Sustainable Agriculture

The summer gives us nice weather, excuses to drink margaritas by the pool, and fresh produce. I know you all know how to enjoy the first two, but learning how to find fresh healthy produce (i.e. – fruits, vegetables, and any other farm raised products) is sometimes a daunting and difficult task. This article will help you the consumer find healthy farm fresh food along with understanding the impact you can make within your own community.

Farming today is far different from when your parents were alive. As Americans we tend to think that bigger is always better. For example, instead of growing 10 bushels of corn on 1 acre we can now grow 100. Some may think that is an agricultural break through, but I have one question. How do you sustain the health of the soil with that many more plants? You are right, the answer is fertilizer. These large farming outfits also use many chemicals such as insecticides and herbicides to fend off invasive insects and kill weeds. It is nearly impossible to completely avoid those chemicals because so much of our food comes from “Big” farming. While searching for a better alternative to buying mass produced chemically treated produce from the grocery store I stumbled upon Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Background

CSA’s first began in the 1960’s in Germany and Japan. Now they are all over the world, and becoming more popular as you read this article. They were created by farmers in those countries in response to how the mass production of food was decreasing food safety, decreasing nutrient density within the food, and also to combat the urbanization of farm land. Most CSA’s use Organic Farming methods which give us the consumer a better and more wholesome product along with sparing the land and its inhabitants for future growing seasons. They may also use what is called biodynamic farming. This is organic farming that also takes into account how the farm impacts all surrounding habitats and organisms.

How CSA’s Work

Community sustainable agriculture works by allowing you to buy a share of the farm. Before the growing season begins you pay one fee. I will use the example of my CSA in NY. You pay 500 dollars up front. This allows you to visit the farm once or twice a week for as long as they are growing food (and sometimes after growing seasons) to pick up your freshly picked produce. It is usually picked that day. They typically have a section that contains 5-6 different items and you can take as much as you want. Another section has other produce where you can only take one or two bags total. Each week they also have a pick your own item. This allows you to go out in the field and really become a part of your community farm. It is a great time for all age’s especially children.

Why Choose a CSA

So by now you are asking what real benefits CSA’s have. To list a few: higher quality food, less energy spent on transportation and packaging, organic farming practices that eliminate harmful pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that contaminate our food and water supply, humane treatment of animals, and the opportunity to eat foods raised in harmony with your local environment. This does not touch on the many economical advantages of buying within your community.

Where to Find a CSA

To find a CSA in your area please visit this website http://www.localharvest.org/ There you can search by zip code to find a CSA in your area. Also if you would like more statistical information please visit http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml This is a government website that has links to all the information you could ever want on CSA’s.

BIG BERRY SMOOTHIE RECIPE

Ingredients 2 cups Organic ice (no such thing…just kiddin!!) 1 cup Organic plain yogurt1/2 cup soy milk 1/4 cup blueberries from your CSA 1/4 cup raspberries from your CSA 1/2 banana

Directions Add all the ingredients to a blender and pulse until smooth.

**Don’t be afraid to add a splash of your favorite liquor, if you are 21 or over that is.**

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