Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guest Blog #5: Sarah 'GiGi' Herman - My Leap into the World of Local Food

"I first learned about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in graduate school, during a class attempting to navigate the science and sociology of climate change.  This notion of buying “shares” of food from a local farmer to invest in his business, while reaping the nutritional benefits of farm fresh produce, while ALSO drastically reducing your carbon footprint seemed too good to be true.  Even more, it seemed like one of those crazy ideas that only hippies bought into – how could such a system be sustainable?  I wrote it off as a nice idea, one I’d consider once I was older and had more time for such pursuits. Then I went home that weekend and learned that my parents had recently become CSA members.  My parents?  Buying into a local farm share?  Eating farm fresh veggies?  These were extremely practical people buying into what I thought was a crazy idea, so I decided to reassess my opinions and see what I had missed the first time around.  What a surprise I found!

Community Supported Agriculture is so much more than a fringe idea only capable of supporting a small group of people.  When I relocated to Austin, Texas I did some research to find some local farm share programs.  Not only did I find several different options in the area, but the farm I ended up joining had a thousand members buying into the farm, receiving farm fresh veggies every week.  Even more impressive, this farm started out of the owners’ backyard and expanded until they had to buy an entire plot of land several miles outside of town!  This was obviously not a small group of people trying to make this idea work – it was a successful business.

I quickly signed up for my 10 week share subscription ($30 a week for two reusable bags chock full of farm fresh, just-been-picked produce)  I am 30 weeks into my experiment with local food and I can happily say that this experiment has turned into a lifestyle.  There are so many benefits and perks of being a part of the farm share community, but the most important, in my opinion, are listed below:

  • Food is Fresh.  I don’t really know what I used to eat before, but now the sight of most processed foods repulses me, and I really think about what I’m consuming in ways I never had before.  You can truly taste the difference between farm fresh veggies and those that made their way from thousands of miles away.
  • Food is Green.  A majority of my food comes from nearby.  This means more nutrients for me, less carbon spewed into our atmosphere during transport, less waste generated (nothing is packaged), and less fertilizers and pesticides clogging up our waterways. (My CSA is all organic)
  • Food is not Meat (most of the time).  Too scared to take the vegetarian plunge just yet, joining the CSA has made my meat consumption go down to only once or twice a week, which leads to significant carbon and water waste reductions. And now that I’m more aware of the world of local food, I’ve started to make decisions about eating only meat that was raised outside of the horrors of the American Meat Industry.
  • Food is Community.  When I go to pick up my farm share, I get to chat with the farmer.  He tells me all about the crops, and suggests some new ways to prepare the veggies currently in season.  I know where my food comes from now.  I know who grows it.  I go to pick up my food with a sense of excitement and happiness, not the typical dread that I used to have when I’d go to the large grocery store.

Local food has changed the way I live, and how I perceive the community around me.  The mantra “Think Globally, Act Locally” is my new personal slogan.  I join you to take the Local Food Leap with me, you’ll never look back!"


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