While Iâ€™m on vacation until Aug. 9, Iâ€™m featuring several guest bloggers. This guest post is from Ami who blogs at Writing: My Life.
I first heard about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) several years ago in a magazine article. I immediately loved the idea of paying a local farmer in exchange for a weekly share in whatever he or she produced. What better way to really know where your food is coming from? Unfortunately, by the time Iâ€™d learned about CSA the deadlines to sign up with any of the local farms had passed. I planned to check into it again the next spring, but kept letting those deadlines pass me by.
The desire to start eating more locally kept building, though, as memories of homegrown tomatoes and carrots straight from the garden came back to me. Then, in the spring of last year, I read a book that changed my perspective on food tremendously. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle reacquainted me with the natural order of food. It reminded me that eating a tomato in January (unless it comes from a jar you put up in August) is not natural. It made me take a second look at my banana-eating habits. And it taught me that local eating can be healthy, good for the environment and really flavorful, too.
After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I started running into articles on local eating and Community Supported Agriculture everywhere, and I began thinking much more consciously about where my food was coming from. Yet again, I was too late to join a CSA for the year, but I shopped mainly at the farmerâ€™s market that spring, summer and fall. I spent my weekends prepping and cooking fresh produce. I did some freezing and drying to preserve a bit of what I brought home. I even tried growing my own tomatoes, which unfortunately succumbed to the beaks of the pigeons and blackbirds before I could enjoy them. I also did a little local-eating experiment, and I learned a lot about how difficult our current food system and lifestyles can make eating locally.
The difficulty didnâ€™t discourage me, though. I did my best, and this year, I was a little more prepared. I joined that CSA and was at the farmerâ€™s market on opening weekend ready to eat with the seasons again. I got a newer refrigerator, with a freezer that could hold more produce for the winter months. I joined the One Local Summer Challenge, with the goal of eating at least one completely local meal each week. I planted an herb garden in my tiny backyard.
One day I hope to have a garden to tend with berries, squash, peppers, juicy tomatoes and more. But for now, I support my local farmers and try to keep my eating as local as possible. Sure, my behavior hasnâ€™t completely changed. I still spend money at the grocery store and I havenâ€™t started canning and root cellaring yet. And eating local certainly isnâ€™t the easiest eating option. But I feel good knowing that my money is supporting local agriculture. Iâ€™m happier knowing the farmer that grows my vegetables at the CSA. I see him regularly when I pick up my share and he sends us a farm and harvest update every week. Even the farmers at the market are open about their growing practices and Iâ€™ve come to know several of them by name. These days, I know where my food is grown and I trust that itâ€™s being done with conscious concern for the land and the people who will consume it. Of all the benefits of eating local, I think thatâ€™s the best one.
Ami is a technical and freelance writer trying to live a healthier and greener lifeâ€”and some days she succeeds. Read more about her local eating escapades at Writing: My Life.