The hand-wringing over access to fresh food in Hartford need not be. Besides the year-round farmers’ market on Broad Street, there are daily farmers’ markets running for about half the year in various neighborhoods. Another way to secure fresh, healthy food is to become a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share-holder.
CSA has existed in the United States for a few decades now and presents a way for farmers to be paid upfront, allowing them to spend more of their time growing food and less of it worrying about marketing.
It’s not without risk. If crops fail or are stolen, share-holders will not receive refunds, though farmers have ways to alleviate the loss, sometimes by extending the growing season.
Consumers experience advantages like being able to actually speak with the person who grew the food. In an age when labels do not tell the whole story — organic in what way? — there is value in being able to ask direct questions about the growing practices.
Pre-paying for an entire season’s produce — and in some cases, other goods — means walking away with edibles that a person might not have known existed, like kohlrabi and tatsoi. This opens the door for children, especially, to develop a taste for foods that are more sophisticated than what’s on kiddie menus. Being able to walk around the farm teaches about agriculture in a way that can not be taught in school.
Paying a large sum upfront may seem prohibitive, particularly for those in lower income brackets. The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association even says that “CSA is not about cheap food,” adding that “cheap food” is “usually neither nourishing nor grown with care of the environment in mind.” The organization says, “CSA is about each of us being responsible.”
But how does one be responsible when her pantry is more ramen than caviar? Continue reading 'Hungry? It’s CSA Time'»