Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook
At the really big "Cherish the Chesapeake Open House", Homestead Gardens has many speakers who will convey sustainability of our region by way of their particular fields. I'll be addressing sustainable agriculture and what each person can do to make sure our beautiful region stays healthy and abundant with rich locally raised foods available to all.
Sustainable (or alternative) agricultural practices are fundamentally a more ecologically based approach to raising food. These practices are based on understanding of, and respect for, ecological principles. In such systems, growers find themselves working with the ecology of the system, rather than against it.
What can one single person do? A CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) membership is one of the best ways to keep your health, your local farmer and your local economy thriving.
CSA allows city residents to have direct access to high quality, fresh produce grown locally by regional farmers. By investing in a local farm’s CSA, you support the local economy and get the benefit of knowing how and where your food is grown.
NPR had did an excellent highlight of the CSA: In the traditional CSA model, members buy a share at the beginning of the growing season. That provides farmers with up-front capital to grow and manage the farm. In exchange, consumers receive a weekly delivery of fresh, seasonal produce. They also take on the risk of a poor harvest. Ideally, the model builds community and personal connections around food.
When you become a member of a CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer. Weekly or bi-weekly, from late spring until October or November, your farmer will deliver that share of produce to a convenient drop-off location in your neighborhood. CSA members pay for an entire season of produce upfront (typically $400-$600). This early bulk payment enables your farmer to plan for the season, purchase new seed, make equipment repairs, and more.
10 Steps to Eating Sustainably
1 Educate Your Self. Why should you eat local sustainable food? Learn about the issues at Sustainable Table, www.Sustainabletable.org, and by watching The Meatrix films, www.theMeatrix.com. If we do research before we buy a car or computer, why not spend a little time to learn about the kind of food we’re eating?
2 Shop Sustainably. Don’t expect to change everything overnight. Start with one item and pledge to buy it sustainably, such as buying one organic dairy, meat or produce item at your supermarket or one local food at a nearby farmers’ market. Visit the Eat Well guide, www.eatWellguide.org, to find local sources for sustainable food, including farms, stores, restaurants, co-ops, farmers’ markets and other outlets in the United States and Canada.
3 Ask Questions. Inquire everywhere you go. Were pesticides put on the produce? What were the animals fed? How were they raised?
4 Reduce Your Meat Consumption. The recommended daily allowance of meat is 5.5 ounces. Americans are currently averaging 8.4 ounces per day. If every American cut out meat just one day a week, it would have a huge positive impact on our environment - and the health of our bodies too! Visit www.MeatlessMonday.com.
5 Eat Seasonally, Buy Locally. Locally grown fruits and vegetables when they are in season. A good tip: Eat your in-season favorite until you can’t eat it anymore. You will be less tempted to buy it when you see it out of season!
6 Grow Your Own. Bypass the industrial food system altogether. Nothing is more special than the connection you have with the food you grow, whether it be a large backyard garden or herbs in a pot on your kitchen windowsill. It’s as local as you can get!
7 Cook. Re-learn (or learn!) the joy of cooking. Find great recipes in the Homestead Gardens Blog and the archives.
8 Take Back the Tap. Bottled water causes a lot of problems, from environmental damage to plastic leaching into the water. Visit H2O Conserve, www.h2oconserve.org, to calculate your water foot- print. Also join Food & Water Watch’s Take Back the Tap campaign and pledge to reduce your consumption of bottled water. www.takebackthetap.org
9 Spread the Word. You can contact public officials, voice your opinion, and stay on top of current issues with food. You can also help to educate others about the problems with industrial agriculture and the benefits of sustainable food. Download a presentation kit and table at events, give a speech, leave cards at businesses you would like to see become more sustainable.
10 Enjoy! Fresh, healthy sustainable food from your local family farmer simply tastes better. Try some today - and let us know what you think!
Sustainable Table celebrates local sustainable food, educates consumers on food-related issues and works to build community through food.