Saturday, April 17, 2010

Follow the Farm

I was at the New Haven farmer's market today and bought potatoes for dinner tomorrow night from Stone Gardens Farm in Shelton. In season, they have great peppers, corn and other vegies. They also raise chickens and beef. I still haven't tried one of their birds (pricey), but will eventually.

The guy manning the booth mentioned that the farm now has a Facebook page and plans to post pictures throughout the growing season documenting the progress of its crops. It's pretty cool. A great way to meet your food and the people who produce it.

Stone Gardens is a CSA farm. No, not the Confederate States of America. They don't shovel manure about the Confederacy being about "freedom" and "state's rights" while leaving out that pesky little old slavery thing (Virginia and Mississippi governors please take note).

CSA is "community supported agriculture." Consumers buy shares in a farm and receive a weekly supply of produce. They get local, seasaonal food, and the farmer gets a guaranteed cash flow. The drawbacks: You share in the risk as well as the reward. If it's a bad year, you're not going to get as much. And you have to be prepared to eat seasonally. That means lots of greens early in the season and at other times perhaps more of certain things than you like or can eat.

But of course this is the way food used to be, even as recently as my childhood. Asparagus, for example, used to be in the stores a week or two instead of year round. A few things, like cherries, are still like that. The upside is that you are eating foods at the peak of their nutritional value and flavor. To really get full value, you probably need to learn to pickle and perhaps even can, which of course used to be common. My Iowa grandmother was constantly canning.

The Hartford Courant did a great piece last week about the explosion of CSAs in Connecticut.

Could everyone eat like this? Probably not. But the more they do the better. The benefits are huge, everything from a better diet to preserving agricultural land to making non-industrial, local farming profitable to reconnecting people with the process of producing food.

That said, it is a commitment and I haven't taken the plunge yet. Maybe next year.

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