You Are What You Eat- Community Supported Agriculture
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You Are What You Eat- Community Supported Agriculture

Picking fresh vegetablesYou are what you eat. Whole foods, uncontaminated with harmful chemicals are the cornerstone of the PCOS Diva lifestyle and diet and the key to living a healthy, active life with PCOS. Food is undoubtedly medicine, and your relationship with it can make or break your healing.  The PCOS diet is based on choosing foods that will nourish your body and relieve your symptoms and understanding why it works.

The super market has made grocery shopping an easier task, with every product you could want at your fingertips.  Gone are the days (for most of us) of going to the butcher, the farm stand and the local bakery.  We have lost our relationship with the people and places that produce our food and so, have lost our healthy relationship with our food itself.  We eat chemically grown tomatoes all year instead of savoring fresh ones when they are in season.  We expect fresh spinach in November and don’t question where it came from.  The result is that our bodies lose their natural seasonal rhythms, and we eat mindlessly.  Fortunately, we have an alternative- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

CSA farmers offer their locally grown produce directly to the consumer by selling “shares.”  These shares are typically a box/bag/basket of produce that the farm has produced that week.  Some farms pack the box for the shareholder, other farms use a “market” system where shareholders choose the produce they want.

Why does CSA work?

Farmers receive a lump sum of cash (usually, shareholders pay at the beginning of the season) that they can then invest in the season’s crop.  Then, they can spend the season farming instead of marketing their goods.  They also get to build a relationship with their consumers.

Shareholders benefit from knowing that their food is coming from a trusted source.  They build a relationship with the farmer and even other shareholders.  Participants have an opportunity to exchange new recipes as they enjoy the ultra-fresh produce and even try some veggies that they may have otherwise overlooked.  There is value in the respect and connection that comes from a relationship with the farmers and your food.

mealplansbannerWhat’s the down-side?

While farmers do their best to provide abundant, high-quality products, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans.  If a drought wipes out the kale crop, there will be none in the shareholders’ baskets.  This “shared risk” between the farmer and shareholder is something to consider when deciding whether to try out CSA.

You should understand that not all of your produce will come from the CSA.  It will almost certainly be necessary to visit a Farmer’s Market or grocery store to supplement your share.  Early and late season yields may be light, and even during the height of harvest, no farm can produce every item you desire in any quantity you wish.  Get used to eating with the season!  Research what harvests when and plan accordingly.  This takes some adjustment, but the fresh flavors make the small change worth it.

Another adjustment is the time commitment required.  It takes planning to pick up your shares.  Unlike a grocery store, you can’t swing by anytime to pick up what you need.  A little extra time may also be required in cleaning your produce.  Farmers don’t sterilize their wares like a grocery store does.  Carefully rinse your produce when you get home to eliminate any insect hitchhikers.

How do I choose a CSA?

Some areas have a rich variety of CSAs from which to choose, in others, you may have little choice.  Localharvest.org is a great place to start looking.  They keep an up-to-date database of CSAs which can be searched by zip code.  Once you have narrowed down your choices, ask the farmers the following questions:

  • What produce can I expect and in what quantities?
  • Is the produce organic? How do you deal with pests?
  • Are all of the products offered grown on this farm? If not, where do they come from?
  • How do pick-up and/or delivery work? Where do I pick up and when?
  • Am I required to work a certain number of hours at the farm?
  • How much does the program cost? Can you buy half a share or a double share?
  • What happens if a customer is dissatisfied?
  • How long has the farmer operated this CSA?
  • Are there references you can call?

Community Supported Agriculture is not a new idea.  It is how humans have fed themselves for millennia.  It is just the popularity of local agriculture that is reemerging.  Many of us are turning away from mass produced mega-mart products in favor of locally grown food.  Personally, I love knowing who is growing my food, where it comes from and what sorts of chemicals (hopefully none) have been used on it.  I love the feeling of community that develops around the farm as everyone eagerly peeks into their boxes and swaps recipes on delivery day.  I love that I am supporting local businesses and workers.  Finally, I love that my family is not only eating the most nutritious produce possible and feeling terrific, but my kids are learning to respect the earth and those who work it. Everyone wins!

Resources: LocalHarvest.org and Agrilicious.org

 

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