A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Support Your Community, Environment, and Yourself!

Food is good………fresh food is better………local fresh food is the Best!

It may seem difficult and costly to start purchasing more local food from a farmer’s market as opposed to food shipped to your nearest grocer, but certain groups have helped tremendously. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and food co-ops are two popular ways for people like you and me to benefit from fresh food straight from a farm near you.

Kelley and I currently have our house for sale and were scheduled for a showing this past Saturday morning. Since this puts us out of the house for 2 hours, we opted to go for a nice walk with Abby, our Golden Retriever, and buy some coffee from a local business nearby. On the walk back, we stumbled on a group of people sorting various fresh produce among laundry baskets in equal portions. This was something that I, a food lover, had to investigate.

We walked over and the people explained how they are a food co-op consisting of small group of people who get their food from a farmer’s market every 2 weeks. To join, you pay $25 for each food assortment and a one-time fee of $7 for the laundry baskets used to place your share of food. After explaining how the group rotates who goes to the farmer’s market for the bulk purchases and their bi-weekly meeting time, I was intrigued and wanted to join. I saw they had mushrooms (a big fav of mine) and asked if I could by any leftovers. Instead, they gave us a basket full of their whole assortment of produce; green peppers, string beans, mango, kiwi, mushrooms, broccoli, and romaine lettuce!
Wow! If they didn’t know how passionate I was about food already, they did now. I became giddy offered the $5 we had left after our coffee purchase, but they refused. We finally get the group to accept the cash as a donation for their new church, but wish we could’ve given more. I got a number to call once we were sure we wanted to join, and then we carried on our way with a bag full of goodies!
So, what are food co-ops and CSA’s you ask? Here’s an explanation for each group and their benefits listed from this site:

Community Supported Agriculture: These arrangements involve a consumer (you) purchasing shares (also called memberships or subscriptions) from a farmer. In exchange, you receive a weekly box (container, bag, basket) of local food grown seasonally on the farm. You may also be asked to spend time working on the farm to help out. This way, the benefits of a bumper crop are shared equally among the members, as are the challenges of a lean year.

Food co-ops: These involve the cooperative efforts of a group of people or organizations all with the aim of producing food for all members. They are generally nonprofit organizations, but they may sell to the public, with all profits going to the members. Food buying clubs, a subset of food coops, are those groups that come together to buy in bulk from local farmers in order to achieve lower prices for locally produced foods.

Benefits of purchasing from a CSA or food cooperative

Farmers benefit: By partnering with the people who purchase the food and from the resulting financial support, a community is born, allowing input from all sides in order to create a better system for all.

Consumers benefit: Those purchasing food co-op food receive ultra-fresh produce that’s healthier and more eco-friendly. Additionally, when the farmer grows interesting heritage foods, consumers are exposed to foods they may never have tried before. Children of these families also benefit by learning where their food comes from.

Environment benefits: Purchasing foods produced locally reduces the food miles your food travels (giving you a smaller carbon footprint). You’ll also likely be supporting a small-scale, family farm that is much more sustainable and hopefully organic, which has many other benefits. Learn more about the benefits of being a locavore.

Search for co-ops and CSA’s in your area at http://www.localharvest.org/ and start doing your part for a healthier environment and healthier you!

Here are a couple other sites to search for local farmers:



If there is nothing in your immediate area, you can look into starting your own co-op and take pride in your work.

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