While I love traveling, I am neither a travel guide nor stinking filthy rich, and therefore have to eat mostly at home. To keep food exciting and support local farmers, I decided, at the urging of my wife, to join a CSA this year.
A CSA? What? Yeah, that’s what I thought. CSA stands for community-supported agriculture, and generally works in a way that an individual pays in advance for the season (typically June through October) to obtain a weekly share of the farm’s harvest. Shares tend to come in “single” or “family” sizes, and most farms expect you to come pick up the share during a designated time period.
The benefits of joining a CSA are vast: You support local farmers and jobs, you ensure responsible farming techniques to protect the environment, you usually save a good deal of money for super-fresh, gorgeous produce (my personal savings amount to somewhere between 10 to 20 US dollars each week, and I get a family share), the produce you do get it fresh, often organic, much richer in nutrients than store-bought fruit due to freshness and no time spent in travel, and, probably the biggest tickle factor for me, it challenges you to eat in season, discover new produce and mix up your weekly cooking. Since you get a share of whatever is harvested, you don’t chose what fruit and vegetables you will get, and it’s typically a big surprise box. Then you need to adapt, try new recipes, discover new favorite foods, and have a foodie-gasm, if you’re like me! For some more info, see this great post.
I joined a set-up called City Fresh that is slightly different than regular CSAs in that it’s run by the New Agrarian Center, a local food initiative that buys produce from 30 farms in a 75 mile radius around Cleveland, where I currently live, and offers pick-up of your share at a variety of locations close to your home (11 locations in my county, alone!). That’s really the deciding factor for me, because I don’t own a car and can’t easily visit farms that are a minimum of 30 minutes driving time away. My stop is only 15 minutes by foot from where I live, and is run by an awesome volunteer team:
I’ll be adding a “local food” section on Mondays that will show some of the most beautiful produce I get every week from my CSA and include recipes and recommendations on how to recreate some of my favorite foods encountered on various travels at home. Are you a member of a CSA? What would you like to see featured? Any other great local food recommendations you want to share? I’d love to hear all about it!