Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture

We had a request from a fan for a post about Community Supported Agriculture – CSA – so here it is! Let us know if there’s a topic you want us to cover in an upcoming post!

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

In a CSA, farmers offer a number of “shares” to local community members at the beginning of the season. When community members purchase a share and join the CSA, they enter into a type of shared risk pool with the farmer and the other members. Throughout the season on a weekly basis, the farmer delivers to the CSA members their share of the week’s produce. Shares usually consist of a variety of vegetables, but in some CSAs farmers give their members the option of receiving fruit, dairy, or even meat with their delivery. The produce is all organic, but because of the lower cost of distribution, the cost of a CSA share is comparable to what you would pay in your grocery store (AND it comes with an added perk – since the food is grown locally, you can feel better about your carbon footprint!). The cost of a share is a few hundred dollars for the entire season (paid up front), and each share could feed a family of two to four people for a week (depending on your vegetable consumption).

What you get in your weekly delivery depends on what’s in season, and changes in type and volume throughout the season. Earlier in the season you might get more leafy greens, while at the end of the season you might find yourself with broccoli, squash, and potatoes. The season is typically 14-20 weeks long and runs from late spring until early fall.

Of course, belonging to a CSA isn’t always peachy keen. One big part of entering a CSA is the risk you share with the other members and the farmer. If production is low one season – due to pests, a draught, or whatever – you share the loss with the other members and won’t get as much in your weekly delivery. Also, in many CSAs members are required to pick up their shares at a certain place and time every week. This allows for less flexibility than buying your veggies at the grocery store. Because all the food is locally grown, you miss out on many produce items that you’re used to buying whenever you want at your grocery store (many CSA members supplement their shares with fruits and vegetables that aren’t available locally). On the flip side, you may find that you incorporate new kinds of veggies into your diet that you wouldn’t normally eat.

Some CSAs require volunteering hours. This may involve volunteering at a farm stand, assisting with deliveries, or even helping out on the farm. While this may seem like a hassle at first, many CSA members find that they feel more connected and involved with the farm when they volunteer. Children especially enjoy visiting the farm to see where their food comes from.

How can I find a CSA in my area?

Here at TBSC we’re a big fan of CSA and we encourage our readers to look into it for themselves. And this blog post comes at just the right time, as the start of the next season is only a few weeks away! To find the CSA nearest you, is a great resource. Eat healthy! Support local business! Save the planet!

Readers, do you have any experience with CSAs? Share them with us in the comments section!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Bitches are Cooking - Are You?

And we’re back…

The Bitch Stopped Cooking took a little hiatus from blogging. Sorry to keep you waiting. Maria’s challenge to not buy any food out was a hard act to follow! Hopefully you all enjoyed her posts. If you haven't read them, check them out starting here.

We here at TBSC have noticed a bit of irony in our cooking lives. Since starting this little business devoted to the culinary liberation of women, the three of us, all women (a.k.a. bitches), have actually begun to cook MORE! Isn’t this a business to support women who want to cook LESS? What we realized is that our actual purpose, what we really want to do, is get everyone back in the kitchen. Not just women. So, the bitch may not get to completely stop cooking, but hopefully we might help other people in the house begin their own adventure in the kitchen. We want everyone in there – the women, the men, the kids!

Looks like we’re not alone…

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and recently published, Food Rules, was recently interviewed by The Huffington Post. The interview covered a variety of food related topics, such as sugar and high fructose corn syrup, going without meat from feed-lots, and most interesting to us at TBSC – men in the kitchen. Pollan says, “I think it's a big challenge to get men back into the kitchen. There is some evidence that with this generation of young people it’s happening to a greater extent -- the percentage of men who are cooking is up, and if we're going to rehabilitate cooking and recreate a culture of cooking in this country it's going to have to be shared, not just by husbands and wives, but by children as well. “ Yes, Michael, we agree!

Jamie Oliver, celebrity hunk-chef, is fully involved with his Food Revolution movement. He believes that America can beat its obesity problem and a huge component of the solution is, you guessed it, getting everyone back in the kitchen. In his Platform for Change: Why America Needs a Food Revolution – Now, he states that “we have lost cooking skills in the home. “ He continues, “Cooking skills give people a basic knowledge of food and help them make more informed decisions about what to eat. Without these skills, people have no choice but to eat fast food and processed meals.” One of his suggestions for how we, the public, can make a difference is “If you can cook, teach others. If you can’t cook, learn how.” There are so many resources out there for learning how to cook. Local adult education classes, your mother, your friend who is a chef, the neighbor down the street who is a killer (no pun intended) barbecue master. Ask them for tips. Hold a cooking class at your house. Cook together. With friends, with family. It's fun!

It’s exciting being a part of this “food revolution”. We didn’t start TBSC because of it, but we have happily discovered that our timing seems to be just right. We look forward to the future- to seeing the growth of cooking within families. Hopefully we will work ourselves out of a job and in the future the men will do the cooking. But, more importantly, hopefully we will all cook together. What’s next for you? What will you do this week to get yourself back in the kitchen or get someone you love in there with you? What will you learn? What will you teach?

Photo credit: Michael Pollan photo taken by Alia Malley. Check out her website.