How Local is Your Fridge?

February 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm Leave a comment

“What percentage of the food in your fridge is locally grown?” asked Kay Jensen of JenEhr Family Farm.

The question was a simple one but one that all the attendees at the EnAct CSA event had to think about deeply. I personally had no idea. I liked to think of myself as a local food supporter, but did I really had a handle on exactly how I was supporting them? Numbers between 30 and 50% popped up as answers.

The next questions was “What percentage of locally grown food do you want in your fridge?”

Now that was one to think about.

The benefits of getting involved in CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture are numerous, but above all you are showing support for local farmers. It is a way to reconnect with your food, to interact with those producing it, and to learn about the variety of produce out there that isn’t the usual grocery store line-up.  It is a chance to renew the relationship between farmer and consumer.  One touching story shared last night told about a CSA member’s young son, who states regularly that their CSA farmer “grew this food for him”. The interaction is an excellent way to teach children hands on about food and nutrition. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that many health insurance companies offer rebates for subscribers due to the many health benefits of eating farm fresh vegetables.

Kay Jensen shares a CSA box with attendees

Of course with anything new, becoming a CSA subscriber takes some time and energy to adjust. Eating locally takes extra time and planning ahead, says MACSAC, or Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, volunteer Angie Fuhrken.  When she first signed on, she was a bit nervous after receiving a box full of vegetables she barely recognized. There are of course the usual favorites, but a lot of times the CSA box contains new items. After researching places to get recipes based on ingredient and with the help of MACSAC’s cookbook, she quickly adapted and now has a bigger variety of dishes to share with her family. With a little extra energy, you can adjust and figure out a system that works for you.  She also shares her CSA with a neighbor, helping to reduce waste. One week the box is picked up by her, and the next week, the neighbor.  Both Kay and Angie made other suggestions such as choosing a farm with a convenient pick-up location for you, making a plan ahead of time if you are sharing with someone, and to be patient in the transition period while learning how to use all of your new vegetables.

A typical 'winter' CSA box. The winter spinach has a sugary sweetness to it.

So what percentage  of local food do you want in your fridge? Is it there now? Do you have a plan to get it there? When considering all of your options, make sure to include CSA.

For more information on CSA, visit http://www.macsac.org.

Thank you to all who came out to the event last night and to Kay and Angie for giving us their time.

Angie Fuhrken of MACSAC and Kay Jensen of JenEhr Family Farm

~EnAct Intern Kayla Baake

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