Every other Tuesday, I fall madly in love with vegetables. The passion dwindles somewhat over the following thirteen days, but once that next Tuesday rolls around, the love affair begins all over again. You see, that’s the day we pick up our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share, bursting to the brim with spectacular produce that’s fresh, seasonal, organic, and locally grown. It doesn’t get any better than that, eh?
I first signed up for the CSA last summer after listening enviously to my friends describe their weekly veggie load. The summer share lasted for 20 weeks and included just about every vegetable you’ve ever eaten, along with a pile of bizarre new ones that I had to research in order to learn how to prepare. Signing up for the winter share was a bit more daunting. My husband, in particular, was a little concerned about how many parsnips, rutabagas, and squash he’d have to consume, but I merely read a few Michael Pollan quotes and he came on board! Sure enough, we’ve eaten more root veggies in the past four months than we usually do in a year, but I’m not complaining. These root veggies are different! The carrots are sugary sweet; the beets are yummy even raw; the potatoes crack when you cut them and leak juices; and the garlic – oh, the garlic! – is massive, crunchy, and wet in all its garlicky goodness! A normal-sized head contains only 4 cloves, they’re that big! (I’m a big garlic fan.)
I love supporting the CSA not only because of the high-quality food at a very reasonable price, but because I believe strongly in the need for our society to drastically shift its attitude toward food. People must start paying attention to true quality and think about the way in which their food choices affect their bodies and their environment. I used to get everything at the supermarket, until I started reading and learning. Now all our veggies come from the CSA, meat comes from the local butcher shop, our eggs come from my friend’s farm, and I make all our bread by hand. That leaves dairy products (usually organic), condiments, and whatever extras to be purchased at the grocery store. (We’re not totally hard-core! Last week I bought lettuce because I was missing it so badly, and ice cream is a must-have in the freezer!)
I’m certainly no expert, but I try to be a conscious consumer and urge you to be, too. Some great resources that I’ve used for learning more are Michael Pollan‘s books, particularly “In Defense of Food.” Mark Bittman, a food writer for the New York Times, is also very active in this food revolution. A hugely inspiring read for me was “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver, telling the story about her family’s experiment to provide all their own food for one year. “Food, Inc.” is a sobering and fascinating documentary about the current state of food production in North America. I highly recommend it, though you’ll never look at a meat counter the same way! I know there are thousands more brilliant writers and activists out there, and I’m sure once you embark on this journey, you’ll discover many of them. Please let me know!