August 11, 2009

CSA Delivery: It just gets better and better

Another amazing delivery of gorgeous, delicious, colorful produce. We are so lucky here in California to have this variety. Tomatoes are at their peak, and there's also an abundance of fruit. And did I mention it's all local and organic?

If you're new to this blog, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, not the Confederate States of America. We've been getting this delivery every two weeks for almost three months and we always eat every bit of it. For one thing, it's so delicious it's hard to imagine letting it go to waste. For another, it's so much fresher that it lasts much longer than produce bought at the supermarket.

This week we got (roughly clockwise starting from the back): watermelon, cantaloupe, purple bell peppers, heirloom tomato, Russian banana fingerling potatoes, mixed baby heirloom cherry tomatoes and a pepper on top, black grapes, pluots, nectarine, treat (cherry chocolate fudge), Amana orange tomato, mixed baby eggplant, strawberries, sweet onion, bi-colored corn, and red leaf lettuce.

Yesterday I linked to this article refuting the recent study that claims that organic produce isn't any better for you than commercial produce. Check it out because it's another instance of the media grabbing onto one study that refutes hundreds of others. Study after study has shown the benefits of an organic diet. Not to mention, there are many more reasons to eat organic besides your health. It's better for the community to support the local farmers and it's better for the planet not to ship foods around the world when they're out of season. And one more big reason: it tastes SO much better.

A reader asked me which I valued more, local or organic? Luckily, with this delivery I don't have to choose. But I haven't always bought organic produce, mostly because of the price. Some fruits and vegetables are more important to buy organic, particularly the ones that absorb a lot of pesticide into their skin. But if someone put a gun to my head (unlikely as that is), I'd choose local produce from the Farmer's Market over organic produce from Whole Foods. There are a lot of steps the small farmers have to go through to get the "organic" certification, they don't necessarily use a lot of chemicals.

It's a good question. What do you think? Which part of the equation is more important, local or organic? I'm encouraged by the fact that more and more people are demanding healthy food. I think it will make it more affordable for everyone. But that's another issue, and another post...

Next time I'll attempt to answer the question,"Why should I join a CSA if I already go to the Farmer's Market?" Another good question, so stay tuned.

Please share your thoughts, ideas, questions, and opinions in the Comments section.

7 comments:

WyldeAbout said...

I just came across your blog a few days ago, and I have gone through and read every single post. I love your blog, it's really great! I have just started my own about the environment and everything and anything to do with it...You have lots of great idea's in yours and you are very inspiring!

Cate said...

I'm with you--I'll take local produce from the farmer's market over organic produce at the grocery store any day. None of the farmers we buy from at the market are dousing their produce in chemicals, it's just not cost-effective for them to seek out the organic label. And there's just something about personally talking to the people you're buying your food from!

Kate said...

Local or organic? Do I have to choose?

I like to eat both local and organic together - and if not, I shift back and forth between local and organic depending on the food (is it on the dirty dozen list) and my feeling that day.

Kate said...

... and peaches have to be local to be tasty.

Whitephoenix said...

I'd go local over organic from whole foods anyday. Organic from whole foods is very cost prohibitive and goes against my beliefs in buying produce within 100 miles of where I live.

Angela said...

Wyldeabout- Wow, thanks. What a nice compliment! I wonder how long it takes to read the whole blog up til now. I'm so glad you like it. I'll come check out your blog.

Cate- Yes, that's my impression that it costs them time and/or money to get the organic certification, but they often use little or no chemicals. I do like talking to the people I'm buying the food from, although now that step is cut out with the CSA. I guess that's actually the first disadvantage I've thought of.

Kate- yes, I agree, shifting back and forth is what I usually do, depending on where I'm shopping and what I'm buying. Now we get almost all produce both local and organic. And even with all this I'm going to the Farmer's Market for the peaches that are only available a few weeks in August. They're called "O Henry's" and they're absolutely fabulous.

Whitephoenix- yes, I tend to use Whole Foods for a couple of specialty items like bulgar wheat and protein powder and skip the produce. It's just a little too expensive to believe.

WilliamB said...

Have you read Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma"? Very interesting book, well written, easy to read but gets you thinking anyway.

His section on industrial organic really changed my thinking (after I checked up on the accuracy, of course). It helped me crystalize what sort of food I'd rather buy, and to understand why I'd been on the fence so long. The thing is, industrial organic isn't always better for the environment. Most of it is produced by two enormous companies that process food just like the other companies, and ship them nationwide, with all the environmental issues that implies. And which is worse for the land: one application of pesticide, or three additional tillings that disturb the topsoil and lead to greater erosion? I don't have an answer.

Local doesn't necessarily meet the need, either. It can be just as dirty as agribiz and often is more wasteful of inputs.

My preferences have been crystalized into what I call "happy food." It doesn't have to be organic but I do prefer fewer chemical inputs to more, more manual debugging, greater tolerance of unpretty produce. For meat it means animals that spend much of their time outside (as appropriate), eat about what nature intended and no cannibalism thankyouvermuch, no hormones or antibiotics unless the critter actually needs it, and no body parts removed so that the animals don't kill each other.

Unfortunately I can't afford a great deal of happy chicken - there's a reason that chicken traditionally was more expensive than red meat - and I do like my chicken. But a little is better than none, and baby steps can get you there eventually.

So long post but complicated subject.