I have taken the plunge and joined a CSA in my town. CSA is Community Supported Agriculture, basically where you pay the farmer at the start of the season and enjoy the fruits of his/her gardens for several weeks or months following. The idea is that the people who eat the food share in the financial risk-taking with the farmer, and provide the capital necessary to purchase supplies and to sustain the farming family while they grow food for us to eat. And if the peppers do badly, we have few peppers, while perhaps the zucchini grew wonderfully this year so we share in an abundance of zucchini. That is my very amateur explanation anyways. It also encourages local eating, so avoiding having your food shipped thousands of miles to your plate, and if the CSA is organic (which mine is and I think most are), it supports organic agriculture.
I have thought about doing it before but never followed through. This year I think the impetus is partially that I feel buoyed by my carfree project, that I can untangle myself somewhat from 'the status quo' and that I have the capacity to follow through. Also I have a professor this term who is into eating only local foods; she is brilliant/totally weird in a fascinating way, and I have learned a lot from her this semester about the food industry. In addition to what I already knew from reading Michael Pollan and Raj Patel on the subject.
Luckily with this CSA, the farmer grows the food and drives it into town, where it is picked up from a house fairly nearby me. Oftentimes you drive out to the farm to pick up the food, which wouldn't work for me for obvious reasons.
So yesterday afternoon Z and I trucked out on an unfamiliar bus route to pick up our share. It comes in a large box, but I left the box there and just filled the basket of the stroller, along with a canvas bag I brought and hung from the stroller's handles, with the food. When I bring the bike I will empty the box into the panniers. The veggies are glorious! Tiny sweet red and yellow peppers, radishes that taste nicely mild, nap choy (I think), daikon (had to ask what this was), butter lettuce, red leaf lettuce, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, and a pie pumpkin which is now roasting in my oven before becoming pumpkin soup. We also got real free range eggs, no more $6 grocery store eggs thank goodness!
So of course I am afraid that I am going to be a CSA loser, leaving things to rot in the fridge instead of cooking them. I already half froze the red leaf lettuce - apparently my fridge is too cold, so I've turned it down. I've already eaten the butter lettuce tho, and I'm feeling quite proud that I have the pumpkin in the works to be turned into something edible. Thankfully the vegetables look familiar and inspiring. Friends gave me their CSA share last week (different CSA), and I couldn't even identify some of the veggies - green tomato-like things with their own paper-like wrappers, and a knobbly small root vegetable were beyond me. With my own, the only real question mark was the daikon. Everything else I basically know what it is, and I am eager to try it all out, even the daikon.
Perhaps this whole CSA endeavour will even inspire my children to eat more veggies. Ahhh or maybe not. But I'm pretty excited about it.