Saturday, November 25, 2006

Eating is a political act

TUCSON -- Our family recently purchased a food share in the Tucson Community Supported Agriculture and we are very excited. It's one thing to eat organic produce and quite another to eat good-tasting food from *locally-grown* farmers. How much sense does it make to buy organic food at Wild Oats or Trader Joes when most of it was trucked in from long distances?

We will also learn to eat what is in season. A charming but important message in their recent newsletter alerted members that cow and goat chesse shares are on hold until spring because the milk has 'gone dry' for the winter. And, there are plenty of free recipes to help you cook that odd but temping veggie you've never seen before.

Their store also holds both shelves and a cooler full of organic Zapatista coffee, herbal Native-made remedies, local honies, goat cheese fudge, sauerkraut, jams and jellies, and a tidy book selection.

A little background:

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) originated in Japan (1960s) and Europe (1970s) and began in the United States in the 1980s. This "movement" provides a direct link between consumers and farmers. The goal of this relationship is to provide solutions to the problems of small farm survival, food quality, nutrition, community building, sustainability and quality of life. This direct marketing method can benefit both farmer and consumer in many ways.

CSA arrangements are based on a contractual agreement between a farmer and a consumer. Every CSA arrangement operates differently and in a variety of forms. However, the concept is that the consumer, often described as a "shareholder" or "member", usually purchases a "share" or "membership" prior to the growing season. This not only provides the farmer with capital to start their business, but also ensures a guaranteed market for their product. Members can rely on fresh, local produce throughout the season. As each crop comes in throughout the growing season, members receive their share, often once or twice a week. The size of the shares vary in quantity and variety. As shareholders of the farm business, they share the risks with the farmer. In this way, the risks are spread throughout the whole membership rather than falling solely on the farmer. The produce is picked up by members at the farm or at a central location.

We pick up our first bag (share) this Monday.

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