Small Family Farm CSA

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My top three favorite reasons to support a CSA farm are the lovely trio of FRESH, LOCAL and ORGANIC that dance together hand-in-hand so beautifully going round and round in a girl-like frolly.  Hello Fresh and Blue Apron might be offering trendy recipes, customizable dinner boxes and at-your-door delivery, but they will never, ever be able to offer truly FRESH, local or organic produce.  

As if there aren't enough reasons to support a CSA farm, I have a new favorite that hits closer and closer to home as the subjects of climate change and carbon sequestering continue to re-surface in our newsfeeds.  The reason is this:  CSA Farms use a lot less plastic.  

The idea came to me as our family was traveling in California this winter visiting my sister.  We behaved as a semi-normal American family for a couple weeks buying all of our fruits and vegetables from grocery stores that also had an organic produce section.  Cabbages were wrapped in plastic, onions came in plastic mesh bags.  Garlic came in plastic mesh bags.  Lettuce of any and all kinds came in plastic bags and plastic boxes.  Grapes, berries, apples, oranges, beans, peas, EVERYTHING came in a disposable plastic bag of some kind.  It felt like a luxury of waste.  And even the few items that we did buy that did not come in an actual plastic bag (like bananas and sweet peppers), they had plastic stickers and bar codes all over them.  All this plastic and stickers and barcodes made my experience of buying vegetables feel very, well, plastic.  Most of what we purchased was organic, but it didn't feel like a very organic experience to me.  

On the frist Saturday that we were there my sister took us to a Farmer's Market in Ohai which was a really fun experience to be at Farmer's Market and finding local citrus, pears, berries, and vegetables.  Fun for me to be on the other side of the table for once in the shoes of the buyer.  While at market we splurged and took home wagon loads of fresh carrots, peas, kale, spinach, citrus, berries, eggs and more.  We had a large crew to feed for two weeks, so it was very fun to shop local in California for week.  All of the food we bought at farmer's market was plastic-free.  There were no stickers, mesh bags or even plastic clamshells.  The berries even came in cardboard berry containers the many buyers were dumping into their own containers and returning to the farm.  The produce from the farmer's market was not only fresh, local and organic, it felt, looked and tasted completely different to me.  It felt, looked and tasted real.  

Buying your vegetables through a CSA farm is an experience like none other.  The produce you receive in your box has a face and a story.  Through the newsletters you receive from the farm, you sometimes even hear about the most recent rain that fell on your produce.  You get to hear about what the weather was like while we were harvesting your produce.  And through the intimate expereience of knowing your farm, you can even learn to pardon certain cosmetic imperfections because you know that we had pouding rains and you understood why the lettuce looked a little more tattered.  You might feel a little less picky about the exacting standards you have learned to expect from your training at the grocery store experience.  

Now while we will never be able to produce this volume of vegetables completly free of the use of plastic, we can at the very start become aware of this huge issue, concerned about how deeply addicted to plastic we are and try to become conservative with its use.  Some of the produce we supply in our CSA boxes needs to be bagged in a plasic bag so we can weigh and evenly distribute it.  Beans might fall through the holes of the boxes if not in a plastic bag.  Carrots could become rubbery and peas and spinach would wilt in a heart-beat if not for the almightly plastic bag.  While I am not proud of it, we must use plastic sometimes.  But what I want to raise our awareness of is how CSA farms are different is this very wonderful way.  The carbon footprint of the produce is drastically less (like thousands of miles less).  The vegetables from your CSA farm are so fresh you can actually see, smell and feel it when you open your box.  It's a wonderful and healthy experience that delights the senses.  Finally, the rising concern of plastic use in the production and distribution of vegetables can be softened when you buy your veggies from a CSA farm.  We recycle the wax boxes that the produce is delivered in as many times as we are able which is something almost no other kind of produce farm does.

A friend of the farm who is currnetly devoting much of her life focus and energy on creating solutions for plastic use created this website:  http://www.viroquaplasticfree.org/

I would also encourage you to check out the National Geographics efforts to raise awareness around plastic use:  https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/plastic-planet-waste-pollution-trash-crisis/