Renewing our efforts to eat better, we set out armed with the certainty that fresh, non-Monsanto, locally sourced foods are more delicious and better for us and for the community where we live. We picked up our first “share” of vegetables from Tucson’s CSA – Community Supported Agriculture- this past Tuesday afternoon. www.tucsoncsa.org
The experience of going to Tucson’s CSA is that it is incredibly well organized, affordable, and it’s also actually kind of exciting to go pick up your food and see what you will be eating for the week. I’m hooked.
We signed up on-line a week or so ago, paying about $20 for each of the next six weeks . So each week we (and you, if you join) head over to the designated pick up spot in the courtyard of the “Historic Y” at 300 E. University Blvd. (between 4th and 5th Ave.) and grab our share of fresh produce. Everything available at the co-op is locally sourced and certified naturally grown. On our first day, the volunteers were gracious and helpful, showing us how to expand our participation and enjoyment by purchasing additional items, such as bread, beef, cheese, and fresh eggs. We happily took home some of “Josh’s” organic eggs(love em), and signed up for a share in a grass fed cow. Of course, the extra offerings cost a little more, but are wholly worth it. As an additional note, this posting did not go up until after we picked up the grass fed beef shares. I’ve not been so thrilled with the cuts received and would not recommend the beef shares as a good value.
I admit that I had visions of spinning hippies, patchouli, and a few stray vacant eyed malnutritioned vegans running the show . And although I did catch a whiff of patchouli, I can report back that what I found was a group of farmers and volunteer/ workers passionately sharing and enabling me to eat and cook better. And for that, from my family to theirs, we are grateful.
Back at the house in our own kitchen, I’ve been one happy Kitchen Liaison concocting everything from green onion and potato soup, sautéed Swiss chard, and slathering olive oil along with copious sprinkles of salt and pepper all over the fresh baked whole wheat and grain breads. We’ve demolished the fresh cilantro and organic potatoes. We’ve rediscovered soup – adding some sort of garlicky root vegetable I don’t remember the name of, which purees beautifully to become the base for just about any soup.
I hate to be all “hark backy” and stuff but when we cracked and scrambled that first organically charged and vibrant yellow-orange egg…. oh man, oh man. I say hark back because both grandparents were farmers and gathering eggs and eating from the farm was a natural part of my summers as a kid. As was a bull that one day chased us over the fence, and yes, we did eat his angry ass one summer. So I felt, once again, connected to the chickens that hatch the eggs so that I may eat. It also brought back memories of Grandma coming in and cursing the bugs that were eating the collard plants and grabbing a giant bag of seven dust (bag of chemical dust), and then heading back out the door, pausing to say, “You stay here. This stuff kills bugs and little kids.” I’d look out and she’d be in a cloud of white dust throwing it in and around the plants. I point this out because it’s not always easy to grow things naturally and we ate that stuff too. Context.
One principle you must embrace. When you source locally, you get what is grown and available at this time. So you adjust your diet to whatever is available and like me, you cheat a little and run down to Albertson’s every now and again, but hopefully with far less frequency. CSA also provides an incredible number of recipes and extra on-site guidance for helping members stay creative and satisfied with the different veggies that come in and out of availability through the growing season.
Message to Albertsons. Since you’ve stopped carrying heirloom tomatoes and continue to further limit the variety of other fresh produce your carry, I’ve done the same to you with regards to shopping. Would urge Albertson’s to think about empowering your produce guys to stop shrugging their shoulders. I’d estimate the cost to Alberton’s for the shoulder shrugs around my heir loom tomato request has already cost you about $500 and the total loss just keeps aggregating for you, as I find other places to buy groceries. When you take it away and I ask for it back, and you ignore me, I go shopping around.
Back to the CSA. Not only did we find heirloom tomatoes, we also love the experience and the interaction with the folks that so kindly grow, tend, harvest, and shepherd our food to the bins and answered our questions. If you want to get connected to your food, and where it comes from, and how it impacts your body and your community, Tucson’s CSA makes it easy to do so. CSA and other locally sourced natural and organic sources are everywhere across the country, and more affordable than you may think.
Everything you need to know is on the CSA website. We strongly recommend you bookmark their site, and try some of the recipes. They are testimony to what it means to Take a Stand – not against anything, but for food and community.
Audio Review of CSA- requires freakin flash