Posts Tagged ‘farmers’

Have You Joined a CSA Yet?

 

CSAs, or Community Supported Agriculture, have grown in popularity over the years. In a CSA, consumers can buy local, seasonal food directly from the farmer. The farmer offers a certain number of shares, or boxes of vegetables or other farm products to the public. Customers in turn pay in advance for a share and receive a box or bag of seasonal produce each week during the farming season.  There are several different CSA formats – half shares, seasonal shares (with more produce grown in hot houses, you can now get winter shares), biweekly shares, or market shares where you choose your own produce. Fish, local meat and flower CSAs are also available.

 

 

There are advantages for both the farmer and the consumer with the CSA model. For farmers, they receive early payment, which helps with their cash flow at a lean time of year, and they have the chance to meet the people who eat the food they grow. For the customer, they eat just picked produce, which is at its most flavorful and nutritious. They are often introduced to different kinds of produce and new preparation ideas. They have the opportunity to get to know the farmers who produce their food, a rare option today with conventional supermarkets where produce is cellophane-wrapped and has traveled 1500 miles from farm to plate.

I’ve been a member of several CSAs over the years, but the spring CSA I am participating in now is clearly the most unique. Fresh produce is limited in spring in New England, but my CSA bag is full of thoughtfully chosen and healthy items.   Run by a nutritionist and her farmer boyfriend, Nicole Cormier and Jim Lough, their bags of “locally sourced, fresh picked, handmade, sustainably grown, non-toxic, real food” are designed to be nutritionally complete.  They contain items like sunchokes, pea greens, fresh chevre goat cheese, homemade almond milk, local cornmeal, black beans, herbs, spices, honey, farm fresh eggs and locally grown mushrooms and grains. I have received locally made skin salves, delicious homemade granola and dried fruits, green juice drinks and even a locally made reusable sandwich and snack bag.  Nicole also includes recipes and nutritional information.  Her CSA model is a little different from the typical one in that she uses many farmers who all grow something different.

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I can hardly wait to see what’s in my CSA bag – it’s apparent each bag is packed with love and care. Check out the CSAs in your area. You’ll not only enjoy eating the freshest and most nutritious produce possible, but the convenience of pre-chosen food too. And, you’re helping to support local farmers.

Information compiled from http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ and deliclioiuslivingnutrition.com.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

HEALTHY ORGANIC FLOWERS AND CHOCOLATES FOR VALENTINE’S DAY!

Image by blueathena7 Flickr.com

Before you send your sweetheart a romantic bouquet of flowers, think about sending organic flowers instead.  Most flowers are grown with highly toxic chemicals. Even the floral foam used in floral arrangements contains toxic elements; there is an appalling lack of toxicity regulation in the flower industry.  Colombia, the world’s second largest flower exporter after the Netherlands, douses the plants in pesticides to prevent diseases and blemishes.  During peak season, the workers (many of whom are single mothers and even children) work long hours with low wages and a steady exposure to herbicides, pesticides and fungicides.  Many suffer work related health issues as a result.  The soil and the ground water are contaminated and the soil is depleted of biology. Flowers grown in the US are partially regulated by the EPA, mostly concerning the safety issues for the growers.  The possible dangers, including allergic reactions, from chemical residues on flowers passed onto consumers however, are not addressed.

The market is growing for organic flowers – the more the demand, of course the more available they will become.  With each purchase, you know you are helping the life of a floral farm worker.  Visit organicbouquet.com, which according to the Sierra Club, is a carbon-neutral company that not only sells pesticide-free flowers but also gives their workers in underdeveloped countries zero-interest loans, healthcare, and education.  Another option, if possible, buy seasonal flowers from a farmer’s market, pick them from your garden or consider a potted plant.  Potted orchids are a lovely Valentine’s Day gift.

My favorite Valentine’s gift is chocolate and happily the health benefits of dark chocolate are becoming well-known.  Besides tasting delicious, dark chocolate, which is at least 65% cocoa, contains a large number of antioxidants, nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries. The flavonoids help relax blood pressure, have been shown to lower cholesterol by up to 10%, may protect arteries from damage and fend off heart disease.  Dark chocolate stimulates endorphin production, or the feel good hormones, and contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant.  It may even help with tooth decay.   Like coffee, it contains caffeine, a natural stimulant.

This year, get your Valentines organic, fair trade chocolate… Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods carry lots of varieties, and I noticed CVS carries some too.  Dark chocolate still contains sugar and fat, so indulge moderately!  (Unfortunately, milk and white chocolate do not contain the same benefits.)  Yes, even Valentine’s Day can be green!

English: Dark chocolate. Español: Chocolate negro.

Image by sweet mustache Flickr.Com

Some information compiled from greenamerica.org and sierraclub.org

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