On average, food travels 1500 miles from farm to table. Purchasing local food reduces travel distance so it also minimizes air pollution and the consumption of fossil fuels. Plus, local food is fresher so it tastes better, has more nutrients, and it supports the communities where we live and work. I have always loved shopping at farmers’ markets, where you can find a huge diversity of vegetables, fruits, breads, cheeses and jams, all made by farmers in the region. Arlington boasts 7 different farmers’ markets, spread conveniently throughout the week.
This year I decided I wanted to look for new ways to support local agriculture, beyond just shopping at farmers’ markets. Last week, I received my first basket of fresh produce from my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm share. A CSA works by bringing together enough people in a community or neighborhood to cover the distribution costs and allow a farm to deliver produce to them once a week over the course of a growing season. I thought it would be a fun experiment because, unlike at a market, you don’t get to choose the produce in your CSA basket. I wanted to broaden my horizons by trying new foods and recipes.
The day of my first delivery, I rode my bike to a house (the drop-off site for Arlington) two miles away from my apartment where I found a basket of different veggies waiting for me. All crops peak at different times in a season, so no two deliveries will ever be the same. Later in the summer, I might receive watermelon, squash, strawberries, and onions- some of my favorite foods. But now, since it’s early in the season, I found lettuce, broccoli, bok choy, garlic scallions, kale, and several other leafy greens. I ordered a dozen eggs, which I can’t wait to taste!
To be honest, I didn’t even recognize several of the items in my basket. I had never eaten bok choy before, or kale. But, I’m having a blast looking for new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen. One recipe I enjoyed, in particular, was this Millet Bowl with Black Beans and Vegetables.
If this sounds like something you would enjoy, I highly recommend looking further into CSAs. Several different farms deliver to the area, so you can find a size of delivery and a price that work for you. I received a student discount for mine, and am now paying less per week than I would have shopping at grocery stores!
You can also go beyond buying local food for your home, and seek out restaurants that serve local food as well. This fall, AIRE will expand the highly successful Green Games Program to restaurants and retail establishments. We encourage customers to support restaurants that source local ingredients for their dishes.
By: Kelsey Kerle-O’Brien