Sunday, August 16, 2009

Community-Supported Agriculture

This year my husband and I, in an effort to be more health-conscious and "green", decided to join a CSA. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a CSA is a community-supported (or shared) agriculture group. Community members pay a local farmer for a "harvest share" in the winter, and once summer arrives, are rewarded with a weekly bounty of fresh, seasonal vegetables for the duration of the harvest.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, my daughter has been plagued with food allergies and
digestive issues since she started eating solids. This forced me to start paying close attention to our food choices in an effort to make her healthy. I became very disconcerted during our trips to the supermarket when I began taking note of all the produce that had been imported from China or Peru. I vowed to only buy produce from Canada, and Ontario whenever possible. The more
research I did into my daughter's problems, the more I became suspicious of the possible link between pesticides and allergies. I took my Canada-only purchasing decision a step further and sought out a place to buy locally grown, organic produce.

Not only is my CSA organic, it is one of only a handful of certified biodynamic farms in all of Canada. This means that the farm is treated as a living organism. The biodynamic farmer strives to enhance the relationships between living creatures on the farm while paying close attention to the subtle rhythms of nature. Swamps, gardens, pastures, woods, mammals, birds, soil, life, death, and renewal all have their place on the farm. No synthetic chemicals are used on the farm, and all outside inputs are kept to a minimum.

The pay-off for us is not only fresh favourites, like carrots, beans, lettuce, squash, and tomatoes, but also a huge variety of other things I would normally pass over in the supermarket like beet and radish greens, chard, and mixed Asian greens. We've been introduced to a large array of new food too: yellow, white, and purple carrots, tatsoi, Japanese turnips (now my daughter's favourite vegetable!), sweet baby beets, and red scallions.

It has been a bit of an adjustment joining the CSA: we don't know exactly what we'll be getting each week, or how much, but the quality and taste are unmatched by anything you'll find in the grocery store.

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