Many families are trying to figure out how to live healthier lives. Documentaries like Food Inc. are opening eyes and hearts forcing people to think about where their food comes from. Small town folk may not have to do much searching, if at all, to find fresh produce. Most smaller communities even know the local farmers quite well. But for those living in the bigger cities, it can be difficult to find farm fresh veggies that haven’t been shipped half way across the country. So how can a eco-conscious newbie find veggies that will not only help local growers, but also increases their family’s health and wellness? Here are a few resources to make the leap into Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) including some helpful products to aid in your new veggie adventure.
Farmer’s Markets are popping up more often thanks to an increase in maintaining healthy lifestyles. The great thing about these markets is that most have so much more than just fruits and veggies. Many sellers also offer condiments, baked goods, cosmetics, soaps, jewelry and clothes. It’s like an extravaganza of indie sellers all at your beck and call. It’s almost like Etsy walked right into your neighborhood. You might even find a handful of local Etsy sellers and how exciting is that? Local Harvest has an efficient database for helping most people find farmer’s markets close to home.
My go-to for CSAs has always been Local Harvest. Yet again, their site offers a database which allows you to enter your zip code to find local co-ops offering shares of a farm’s crop for purchase. The season is usually paid for in full at the beginning of the cycle and prices are dependent on your area. I’m in Phoenix, Arizona, so we pretty much have year round sessions available. This may not be the norm for most of the country, especially places with that white fluffy stuff, I believe it’s called snow, is something farmers to contend with. Look around the site to see what’s available and call around the farms if you have questions. I have yet to run into a farmer who wasn’t thrilled to help a newbie interested in CSA.
Tools of the Trade
While grocery stores and farmer’s markets have bags readily available, you’ll soon see all the cool kids have eco-friendly reusable bags. These items not only keep waste out of the landfills, but they also cushion produce better than the thin plastic bags leading to less bruising. This large hemp bag by Chrissmith22 provides an easily stowed bag for collecting your favorite veggies. Johnsonfamilyzoo has some nice and light produce bags that will have a minimal, if any, affect on the weight of your produce. They are easily laundered for health safety and are simply fun and pretty to carry around.
Community Sponsored Agriculture must become a main focus for shopping if small farms are to survive. When the lettuce, spinach and cilantro scares had everyone tossing their store-bought produce, I was able to make my salad and creamed spinach without a worry. Not only is it great to know exactly what is sprayed, or rather not sprayed, on your produce but it’s also wonderful to build relationships with the growers. It’s fun to learn what’s in season and tap into our body’s natural rhythm for needing the nutrients found in those seasonal items. Of course one of the best reasons to support CSAs is for the sake of our children. Children raised with a knowledge of farms and the connection of foods and farming have a deeper sense of control for their health and wellness. It helps them understand and respect the importance of our earth and how we treat her. In the end, isn’t that what most of us are working towards?
Do you belong to a co-op or frequent farmer’s markets? Where are your favorites?