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On wanting to eat local

March 7, 2011

Mennonite Central Committee has developed a great resource set called “Handle With Care” as part of their Creation Care initiative. The final part of that series is about where food comes from, how to eat sustainably, and the consequences of foods imported from far away. Most of the video focused on community farming, CSAs, and organic food, which is an area of justice that I hadn’t thought much about.

One issue that they described well is our (entitlement driven) practice of importing produce from huge distances, especially in cold climates during the off season. They said that the energy we’re willing to spend on importing exotic produce should be proportional to the caloric and nutritional value of that food. For example, avocados are nutritionally excellent and unusual foods, while lettuce is nutritionally and calorically empty. It makes sense to import avocados (at an appropriately high cost to the consumer to subsidize the carbon emissions- likely $3 per piece) while it makes no sense to import lettuce.

Community supported agriculture (CSA) directly links the farmer and the consumer and prevents unnecessary transport of foods. CSAs are often run by farmers or gardeners who pre-sell shares in their crop and for a set fee, members of the group will receive a portion of the harvest each week. Schirin Oeding describes it this way: “A CSA provides a non-farmer with a healthy diet that is in tune with global climate change, soil fertility, locally available foods and represents a human and humane interaction between the land and those working it. Thinking locally makes global sustainability possible.”

Each CSA operates a bit differently- some are set up like a market where each person can meet with the farmers and hear about what has been harvested that week, while others provide each member with a bin of produce at a set pickup location each week. Some also provide freshly milled flour or free range eggs. Often, members will find themselves eating produce that they have never seen before- it is a great way to get your family excited about trying new local fruits and vegetables.

If you’re interested in joining a CSA so you can receive fresh local produce all summer long, now is the time to get involved as registrations tend to fill up fast. Below are some in the GTA.

Plan B Organic– Flamborough

Whole Circle Farm– Acton

Ontario CSA Directory

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 9, 2011 2:19 pm

    I think it’s so great that there are educational opportunities like this. What is missing on so many levels of sustainability is an understanding and efforts like the one you describe are to be commended.

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