A Different Kind of Shopping
When you are part of a CSA with a farm (consumer supported agriculture), you pay a one-time fee in the winter, usually a few hundred dollars, and then during the spring/summer/fall growing season, you pick up whatever produce is available from the farm that given week.
I have been a member of a local farm for 3 years now, and I love this kind of shopping experience. I feel so much more in touch with my food – by knowing my farmer and understanding the ebb and flow it takes to grow real, organic food.
Some weeks are more plentiful than others – depending on the weather and other factors – and each year has been different. The first year we were members is infamous among the farm community because each of us got 14 eggplants two weeks in a row! Fourteen! Different crops yield differently each year, and the end-of-summer plenty is always a little overwhelming when tomatoes, zuccini, & squash come in plenty.
I love this kind of shopping – get what you can and figure out what to do with it in the kitchen. Like I said, this is my third year with a farm share, and I am finally starting to get my rhythm in the kitchen with this food. The first year, I poured over my cookbooks and made ingredient-for-ingredient what the recipe called for. This year, I am more free-form and I get very proud of myself each night at dinner when I think of something to create and then make it.
This local way of shopping/eating/cooking based on what is available is a different kind of rhythm from going to the grocery store every week and buying ingredients for recipes – in season or out. I rather prefer it the way of the farm.
In fact, I have enjoyed this way of shopping so much, that I joined a co-op this week. In this co-op, I place my order online once a month from different local (and mostly organic) vendors – everything from meat, cheese, dairy, eggs, grains, breads, honey, fruit, vegetables, essential oils and more. Then, once a month, on Wednesday evening, we go to the pick-up and get everything that we ordered.
It is one step closer to knowing where all of our food comes from – I’m getting to know the farmers who raise the cows and the bakers who knead the bread. And it’s one step closer to eating a whole foods diet – there are no crackers on the list or cereal or Little Debbies to tempt me. If I want cookies, I have to make them. From scratch. From real ingredients.
I’ll still have to go to the store from time to time, but it will be for minimal purchases (and I’ll have to buy some vegetables there in the winter – but I swear I’m never eating another winter, watery, bland tomato again! Not after eating heirlooms all summer).
We are taking one more step to eating local, organic, whole foods with the seasons.