Friday, June 01, 2007

Why am I a CSA member?

I have mixed feelings about commercial agribusiness -- on the one hand, there is the fact that we have made huge advances in food production:

"In 1830, it took 300 hours of labor to produce 100 bushels of wheat on five acres. Today, it takes 1.5 hours to produce the same number of bushels on two acres." (Gourmet, June 2007, p. 61)

On the other hand, it is almost impossible to find tomatoes that taste like tomatoes or apricots that taste like apricots in the grocery store. I grew up with produce from Japanese farmstands and fruit we picked ourselves in the spring. The vegetables and fruit were ripe and tasted real. However, this bounty came with a price in arid Arizona. Orchards and vineyards were cropdusted and the farmers mined water in some cases causing the water table to drop 30 feet a year.

Now, I drive a few miles out of my way each Thursday to pick up my CSA share. I buy fruit and vegetables that are grown locally in sustainable ways rather than transported halfway across the country or the world. The produce types change seasonally and I am surprised every week by what is in my share. My husband has found he loves swiss chard and likes beets and turnips, my son eagerly awaits the summer tomato crop, and my daughter looks forward to fresh peas.

This week we will be eating radishes, carrots, green garlic, rhubarb, leaf lettuce in two colors, spinach, arugula, and bok choy.

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