Monday, June 20, 2011
When I first joined a CSA, I was just excited to be eating seasonally. I wasn't that concerned about eating animals or plants that had been treated with chemicals. I was more concerned with the taste of the food-with trying to recreate the fresh amazing layers of sun contained in an heirloom summer tomato. Obsessed really.
Over the past few years though, my connection to food has morphed into something more complex. I now strive to make thoughtful decisions about most everything I put in my mouth-not just does it taste like the ultimate best version of itself but....was it grown using concientious practices? Is it local (or at least local-ish?) Would I feel comfortable if my child went to the field, picked this vegetable and ate it without washing it?
I'm still evolving and I'm not endeavoring to be rigid in my lifestyle. I eat bananas sometimes. I just am more likely to eat vegetarian at a restaurant where I don't know the source of the meat. I'm less likely to eat asparagus in July or strawberries in September. If you invite me over you can serve me whatever you wish. I will enjoy it, eat it with gusto and relish the time we spend together at the table. But when my dollars are making the choices...I choose food that I know the provenance and I believe that the choices I make matter.
It began with my farmers. Jason and Haruka Oatis are the farmers of www.EdibleEarthscapes.com. They are stewards of the land who care tremendously about the work they engage in. They believe deeply in sustainable farming methods and share their knowledge at every opportunity-in a kind, supportive way. Not only are they smart and hard-working-they are also genuinely big-hearted, interesting folks. We were lucky enough to stumble into their CSA on our first try and I'm grateful for that happy accident on a regular basis.
Haruka and Jason have gradually become part of our family. We belonged to their summer CSA for 2 years and then just this past winter joined their winter CSA. Even better, I got to be a part of the magic by delivering farm boxes to the Raleigh members each Saturday. They aren't doing a summer CSA this year as they try to navigate our extreme NC weather in a way that still allows them some freedom and balance in their lives. However, we still one or both of them just about every week at the market. If we miss a week, the whole family feels the absence. They are characters in our children's lives as much as any aunt or cousin. They have had significant positive impact on the way we eat (greens!!!) and the way we view our footprint on the world. They've gently nudged us to examine our over-consumed suburban lives and live more richly (without more money). They introduce us to new foods and perspectives that we wouldn't have appreciated earlier. We talk about food and music, weather and politics, extended family and pets. I often wish there was a more familial designation for them because farmer doesn't really cover it. Friend? Teacher? Brother? Sister? Aunt? None of those titles convey what they mean to our family.
Interestingly enough, we've added more farmer-family members in the past few years. What started with the Oatis' is now a broad group of people that I see and laugh (and sometimes gripe or rage or cry) with who I view as vital to my life. We recently considered a move out of state and one of the cons against the move were the farmer friends and connections we have. This weekend I watched as my daughter sat on Esta Cohen's lap and told her all about her new preschool classroom. And all I could think was....we all need more of THIS right here. Much love to ALL my farmer buddies-we are grateful for all the gifts that you give.