Monday was one of those days when I was just happy to be alive. The day began with a weigh-in which confirmed 15 pounds lost in the last four weeks. That always helps to perk up a Monday. Later in the day, I made three trips that all boosted my spirit. None of them would look like that big of a deal to an observer. All I did was go shopping. I’m not a mall goer, I hate buying clothes, and this wasn’t at Best Buy, so we’re not talking about the kind of retail therapy that we Americans use to temporarily lift our mood. But like any refined drug, those trips start with a quick high, then subsequent crash when we realize there is just so much more we DON’T have. The cycle is endless. (More on that in an upcoming post.)
Veering off topic in a rant here, let’s get back to the basics. I went shopping for food. I’ll mention my trips in reverse. The last stop was to the raw milk dairy, where I can see the cows that make the milk. This milk will become yogurt today. The second stop was to the natural foods store in Lewisburg. Now, like any retail outlet, it can very much resemble miracles-in-a-bottle, so I was there for a couple of specific items. No chia in stock, but I did pick up quinoa, a pair of socks, and ginseng extract for my soon-to-be-homebrewed honey stingers for training.
It was the first trip of the afternoon that really lifted my spirits. I met my farmers from our new CSA. If you’re not familiar with the concept of CSA, it’s Community Supported Agriculture. Going beyond the farmer’s market or roadside stand, you make a commitment to a share of a produce farm for a season. You get a box of vegetables each week. You don’t “shop” and choose, you get what’s grown. There is opportunity for swapping, but it’s a great way to try more vegetables, and to eat in season. Here’s a fuller description of the philosophy of CSAs, along with a tool to find one in your area.
We belonged to a CSA a few years ago, Sweet Meriam’s Farm in Beaver Springs. We met great people through the farm. But a lot like people who join a gym but never go, we liked the idea of belonging to a CSA more than actually eating the beets that came in the box. But it was a step forward. Sweet Meriam’s dropped the CSA and switched to a program with the Middlecreek Area Community Center for getting more kids onto a farm, so we had no CSA.
Well, now I am glad to say that there are options in our area. It has always been a source of puzzlement for me that I live in the heart of some of the best farmland on the continent, only a few miles from the birthplace of the organic food revolution (Walnut Acres, Penns Creek), in the cradle of PA Dutch influence which brought sustainable practices like using unprocessed manure on fields… and yet, we have one of the highest rates of Type Two Diabetes in the world. Our Amish stores are full of baked goods and discounted surplus processed “foods.” The cognitive dissonance is so alarming, it would be like finding a strip club in Mecca.
That is changing. More people are becoming intentional about their food sources, favoring the term locavore over organic. Organic is still a valued model, but becoming certified can be a hurdle for small farms, and as long as giant conglomerates can package snack chips that bear the title organic, it can lose its meaning. The primary philosophy behind a CSA is to get to know your farmer, and eat what grows in your neighborhood. CSAs use sustainable practices, which is really what organic means.
I’m happy to say, we now have a CSA in Richfield, Mystic Springs Farms. I went out to meet Marcia and Giles on Monday. We will be purchasing a full produce share this season, and have also committed to an egg share. They’ll also be doing pastured poultry. We may even have a co-operative venture this season that I’ll post more about when it’s confirmed and set up. I left with two dozen eggs, and three varieties of vegetables from their unheated greenhouse that I had never even heard of before.
I took my Tuesday run while Jack was in preschool. I ran by the chickens who laid my eggs. When the season starts, I hope to ride my bike to pick up our vegetables.
We seek happiness in so many venues, but so often neglect the daily act of eating what The Creator has provided. I want to be intentional about eating, so it’s not simply a question of what have I deprived myself of for the purpose of weight loss, but what I am re-discovering that feeds the body and the soul.
I’ll have plenty of future posts that rant about the corrupt systems that have redefined farming in the industrialized world. I’ll justify my statement that Monsanto acts as a terrorist organization. But today, I’m just happy to eat the vegetables grown in the ground near my home.
Ash Wednesday Vegetable of the Day – tatsoi, two varieties. An Asian leafy green that I prepared in my morning eggs in the place of the usual spinach. When tasted raw, I didn’t sense much difference between it and other dark leafy greens. When I sauteed it, it seemed to have more substance than the spinach, and reduced in size less. Full flavor, no bitterness.