Last year, after reading a couple books on the slow-food, sustainable food, and locavore movements, I was inspired to live a life that more closely reflected my new-found political and ideological perspectives on food. I’m not trying to convince anyone in any way, but the books that I read did a lot to open up my eyes to the world of mass-produced food. I wanted to do my part to purchase organic groceries, grown on farms close to me instead of half a world away, and to support beef and poultry that was humanely raised and slaughtered. After doing a lot of research, I decided to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in my area. Unfortunately (due to a breakup and a new apartment in a different borough of Manhattan) that didn’t come to fruition until this year, but now that I’ve been part of my CSA for a while, I wanted to share a little more about it, and how happy I am that I joined.
Being part of a CSA is basically agreeing to buy a “share” in all the produce that comes from a local farm for the growing season. That means that for better or for worse, tomato blight or drought or cold weather aside (crossing my fingers that won’t happen) you are supporting them and agreeing to give them a certain amount of money up front. That takes a load of stress off the farm, giving them guaranteed income no matter what their output, and also gives you an opportunity to have delicious, farm-fresh produce for about 20 weeks of the summer. There are many CSAs that you can join in the NYC area, and all of them get their supplies from one of a few farms in the tri-state area. You go to a pre-designated place every week to pick up your allotment, and you can also buy fruit, egg, meat, or milk shares from your farm as well.
The growing season for my CSA (Merchant’s Gate) began about a month ago. I only bought one share, but it’s perfect for three nicely-sized vegetable sides for a couple throughout the week. I’m glad that it’s not larger or I would have to throw stuff out, since I’m not home often enough to make a home-cooked meal every night realistic. So far I’ve gotten interesting stuff like garlic scapes and fava beans, which is fun to learn to cook with, as well as awesome fresh garlic, red onions, radishes, lettuce, arugula, zucchini, and other basic greens. I’ve learned to really appreciate not needing to go grocery shopping, and it’s fun to challenge myself to use everything every week.
As I’ve become much more physically active over the past year, I’ve found that my body craves more nutritionally complete food. It makes me think a little bit about the vicious circle that is overweight America—Overprocessed foods with artificial flavorings and high sodium and sugars are consumed by people who lead mostly sedentary lifestyles, which encourages more calorie-binging and weight gain. Rinse and repeat. Chinese take-out and fast food gets less and less appealing (although it does have it’s place in my heart) and I find myself actually craving salads. What a turnaround from a year ago, when I had my first cobb salad and became a convert to the world of leafy greens in a bowl as a meal. When you listen to your body, you will find that it’s telling you what it needs. Right now mine needs tons of fresh veggies and protein, with lots of water and fruits—and with fresh groceries in the fridge every week to pick from, it’s become so much simpler to eat well.