Hooray for CSA! (Day 198)…

bean rows

When I paid a visit to Sunbow Farm last month in Oregon, I learned the real importance of maintaining an organic diet — especially when it comes to squash! (That’s our group in the photo above, by the way, after weeding two rows of Harry’s organic beans)

But when it comes to lessening one’s ecological footprint, it’s usually more important to eat locally than organically. So while I’ve been careful to ensure that all my meat, dairy, eggs and tubers are 100% certified, I’m a little more slack with the rest of my food, so long as it comes from within Canada or the U.S.

(On a related note: I had a dream last night in which I was shopping and found a banana from Florida! I was so excited to put it on my cereal in the morning … then I woke up. No banana.)

I’ll usually head to a farmer’s market on the weekend, and if I’m at a bigger grocery store, I’ll always check the “product of” labels to make sure I’m not eating anything that’s been flown in from Chile or New Zealand.

Now, as I’ve been told by my American readers, there’s a solid trend in the States of community supported agriculture, otherwise known as a CSA. If you belong to one of these groups, you can get locally grown food delivered to your door each week, straight from the farm. I’d been looking for a while for something like this in Toronto to no avail, until I finally lucked out, finding not one, but two of them!

The first was the adorable sounding Chick-a-Biddy Acres. The second was Green Earth Organics. I was originally going to sign up with Chick-a-Biddy because the website was just so darn cute and it was a more official CSA. But then I couldn’t quite figure out when their deliveries would start and exactly how much I’d get. The site for Green Earth was a bit of a navigation nightmare, but in a way that was sort of endearing — I mean, real hippies shouldn’t even know what HTML is, right? (Kidding)

Either way, they sold me on the fact that their food baskets were both organic and local (I checked up on just how local, and it seems at least 80% comes from Ontario, the rest usually from B.C.), and on top of that, 10% of their profits go to various charities around the city.

So I’ve signed up, and am expecting my first delivery this afternoon. If it’s too much food, I can always scale back the number of deliveries, or just share it with friends. And I’ll of course make sure to post a photo of my vegetable cornucopia when it arrives!

12 Responses to Hooray for CSA! (Day 198)…

  1. fawn pea says:

    I hope you enjoy your new CSA! The CSA delivery is the highlight of our week. There is a fabulous cookbook for those adapting to a new CSA (eating what comes in the box, rather than what you pick out at the store): The Real Dirt on Vegetables: Farmer John’s Cookbook. Farmer John also has a movie out right now.

  2. besweet says:

    We get Front Door Organics, which I’ve been really happy with. Not everything is local, but they highlight Ontario produce, and don’t include anything that had to get here via air transport. And if you get the customizable option, you could make an all-local box because you get to choose exactly what goes in it. I’m super happy with the service and the products.

  3. Shawn says:

    It’s interesting that you say CSA is an American trend. I’ve been in the USA 7 years now and never seen any sign of that. But we had that back in BC even before I moved away.

    When do we get the company that delivers fresh, local, organic PB&Js?! Damnit.

  4. Rhett says:

    Amy and I have put down a deposit on a CSA share that will start in November, and we honestly can’t wait. It may seem strange, but in South Florida, the big growing season is the winter, as the summers tend to be too consistently hot for growing a lot of things. Getting out CSA share allows us access to purchase other local goods like eggs, honey, and even fish!

    I do wonder about the energy spent on door-to-door delivery, though.

  5. nichole says:

    I got my first CSA box last week! My roommate and I are doing a small box every other week and I think it’s the perfect amount. Of course we’ve both just gone through break ups so our appetites aren’t quite normal yet..maybe in the future we’ll need to bump it up to every week.

    Can’t wait to hear how you like it!

  6. Kim says:

    Wow, I’m surpised there are only two in Toronto. There are many in Ottawa, maybe because we’re a smaller city and have more surrounding farms, or maybe there’s just more hippies 🙂

    Local CSAs
    http://www.spcottawa.on.ca/ofsc/en/csa_eaters.asp

    Ottawa reference for local eating
    http://www.spcottawa.on.ca/ofsc/en/buylocal/buy_local_home.htm

    The extra bonus with getting a basket every week is that you get to try new veggies you wouldn’t buy on your own. Our CSA provides recipes each week which is a great introduction to new veggies.

  7. limesarah says:

    Ooo, yay! I keep being perplexed by this “box” thing. We have to go to the farm and pick out the veggies ourselves, since our CSA is fairly young. All the vegetables are on a table and there’s a chalkboard saying how much of each to take, plust pick-your-own. It makes for great conversations 🙂 You’re also lucky to find one that let you join any time! The one we belong to only sells a whole harvest’s worth of shares at once, and sold out before the first harvest day. (Is that unusual? I suppose it might be.) On the other hand, it selling out is a really great sign for the future of local agriculture, and there’s another nearby (though too far for us) that just started up this year.

  8. rk says:

    CSAs aren’t so new around here–there’s also Plan B Organics. They have a table at the Riverdale Market Tuesday afternoons and one super-cute farmer who mans it. Nothing like the combination of organic food and cute boys.

  9. Lynn says:

    There’s a few actual CSAs that deliver in Toronto:
    Natures Way Organics http://www.natureswayorganics.ca/
    Plan B Organics http://www.planborganics.ca/
    Thurston Organic Farm http://www.thurstonorganicfarm.com/

    And there are some other local food boxes (like Green Earth Organics):
    Eat Organics http://www.eatorganics.net/
    Front Door Organics http://www.frontdoororganics.com/
    Organics Delivered http://www.organicsdelivered.com/
    WOW Foods http://www.wowfoods.com/

  10. v in boston says:

    I love my CSA, and am so happy to hear that more people are learning about them and signing up! I’ve especially liked trying foods that I wouldn’t normally eat and getting better connected to the growing season.

    However, it doesn’t look like Green Earth Organics is actually a CSA. It looks like a company that buys organic and local food and delivers it (which is awesome, no question), but when you join a CSA you buy a share of a specific farm. That way you’re supporting a farm and providing them insurance against a bad crop or a huge bumper crop that drives down prices. So they know they’ll still have some income to make ends meet and keep going even if there’s a drought (as there was this August in Boston). You should consider switching over to a CSA if you like the local food box program.

  11. Michael says:

    Toronto has plenty of CSAs. In fact, I can’t make myself decide which one I should pick. How is Green Earth Organics? Although, I was thinking whether having trucks deliver your produce is even remotely green– as opposed to riding your bike to farmers’ markets. Just a thought.

  12. Kassie says:

    I think CSA is great, and love the idea of getting a selection of local and fresh foods delivered to you weekly. It’s a challenge to use everything that you get in new ways, but I enjoy it. If anyone lives in the Midwest, http://www.macsac.org is a great website for finding local CSAs.

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