Think Global, Act Local! The 100-mile Diet. Eat Fresh, Eat Local. You Are What You Eat.
These slogans have been around for some time, with some older than others, but regardless of their age, their importance and potential impact is now more relevant than ever before.
The most obvious action that will have you align with all of these slogans, reduce your carbon footprint, help to minimise greenhouse gas emissions and directly support your immediate community, is through participating in a Community Supported Agriculture fresh produce system.
The concept is quite simple in that a group of people band together and purchase 'shares' in the produce from a farmer for a given season from that farmer's particular farm. The 'shareholders' pay for the year, or part thereof, in advance, thereby confirming the price for their vegetables and/or fruit for the ensuing period. The farmer is provided with the funds to acquire the materials necessary to produce the various crops, and can concentrate on growing the harvest having done the bulk of the marketing.
In all, a win-win situation, as the farmer and the consumer share the risks and benefits of sustainable agriculture. Additional benefits include; the families know who is growing their foodstuffs, where it is being grown and by whom; they enjoy high quality, nutritious produce, grown locally and organically, and harvested on the day of distribution; the CSA may also involve people in the farm through work and socialising, strengthening local community bonds, allowing urban families to reconnect with rural activities; and lastly, the farmer's market is guaranteed and hence income even before the first seed is planted, meaning that everything is accounted for and there is no wastage.
Thought to have originally been devised by Rudolph Steiner in the mid 1920's, Community Supported Agriculture first saw the light of day in Japan in the early 1970's when a group of women holding concerns about the pesticides in their foods formed teikei [partnerships with local farmers through annual subscriptions] which loosely translated means 'knowing the face on your food'.
The system reached America in the early 1980's, with the pioneer their being Robyn Van En, among others, who commenced with the Indian Line Farm. The concept has blossomed ever since and now over 2400 CSA's are listed with either Local Harvest or the USDA. They vary in how they run and size, some being small one-two person operations to large 400-500 co-op's like Angelic Organics, Arugulas Star of Neal Farm, and Five Springs Farm.
Here in Australia, we are hard pressed to locate more than a handful at this point in time, but are very keen to join those that we know, Mimsbrook Farm near Perth, Moora Moora CSA in Healesville Victoria, Primrose Hill Farm at Mangrove Creek in N.S.W and Teikei Organics at Harcourt in Victoria and lead the way.
In short, we will be launching our own CSA, 'Near River Produce' in the coming weeks, and will be looking for 'shareholders' for the year ahead here on the Mid North Coast, ideally in the Port Macquarie / Wauchope area.
Following are some good links to start your journey about Community Supported Agriculture.
It's Not Just About The Vegetables a film about the first US CSA
And if you know of other CSA's in Australia, or further resources that we'd all find useful, post a comment at the bottom of the page here. (For those who receive this by email, you'll need to log onto Biodynamic Treechange to comment, and we'd all love to hear from you.)
With Gordon Ramsay strongly advocating to the British PM that chefs who serve out of season produce should be fined, now is not the time to be eating 'fresh' food that is flown all over the world. Get back in touch with nature, align with the seasons and eat produce when it's at it's peak - fresh and local.
Can you really justify eating asparagus grown in Chile?