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What is a CSA?

So…here I go on the bandwagon…
This post has absolutely nothing to do with home renovation, so be advised. It does, however, have to do with the city I live in and where the house resides.
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Locavore: A person who actively selects food from where they live

Add this one to your dictionaries. A simple enough definition in itself, but actually much more difficult in action. You are lucky if you live in a city like Ann Arbor, MI which has locally grown food so readily available from so many sources you would have to try very hard to avoid it. I am not talking about shopping at Whole Foods either. I try to avoid that place (except for their wine bar, I think everyone should be able to drink and shop). For a thorough explanation on why I don’t like to shop there, please read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen. You can also check out his other books In Defense of Food and Second Nature. Eye-Opening.
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What’s the point of eating organic chicken, when all that means is it was feed organic processed corn. Organic meat as defined by the FDA is “…poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones….”. OK that’s great, but if the food they ate is just processed “organic” corn and they still are raised indoors, then mass slaughtered and trucked across the country to arrive at the grocery store several days later, then that’s not actually all that great. How about eating farm-raised meat that is raised 10 miles away (significantly less carbon emission transporting that meat to my house) by a local Michigan business with Michigan employees and that is butchered and sold directly to me like Old Pine Farm. The latter may also labeled organic, but is so much healthier for me, and for the environment. 

Making the right food choices is more than shopping for the organic food at the grocery store, it knowing where that food comes from, how it’s processed and how it’s grown/raised. The benefit? How about supporting local business, eating truly fresh food that is good for the environment and for you. So, I choose to be a Locavore.

Thanks to Hiller’s Grocery Store, which labels all of the locally grown/raised products for it’s shoppers, my refrigerator is full of:

  • Milk – Guernsey Dairy: Northville, MI
  • Bread – Livonia, MI
  • Eggs – Grazing Fields: Charlotte, MI
  • Yogurt – Guernsey Dairy: Northville MI
  • MID’S Pasta Sauce: Navarre, OH
  • Maple Syrup – Rock River Sugar Bush Farm: AuTrain, MI
  • Micelis’ Ricotta Cheese: Cleavland, OH
  • Hummus – Steve’s Backroom: Harper Woods, MI
  • Chicken Stock: Breckville, OH
  • Pita Bread – Sophia’s: Detroit, MI ( or my Mom’s which surpassses any other I’ve ever had)
  • Tortillas: Ann Arbor, MI
  • Beer: Ypsilanti, MI

I could go on and on….Granted, living in a place that has been a frozen Tundra for the last 3 months I can’t say that during this season my vegetables are from MI. During the summer growing season they will be, and the rest of the year I will buy US produce instead of food from Chile or Mexico etc.. OK so I know bananas and oranges don’t grown in MI….neither does coco or cane sugar. So there are some exceptions. I guess the point is that a Locavore is actively trying to make sure that food they eat is from local sources – as much as possible.

So I am meeting with a CSA member on Monday who is going to help match me to the CSA’s in the are that will fill our needs the best. I have reviewed the CSA booklet and there are farms in the area that grow vegetables in hoop houses year round, so it is possible to eat locally grown produce all year. Who would have thought!
What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)? At their most fundamental level, CSA farms provide a pre-scheduled delivery of sustainably grown farm produce or products to consumers during the growing season.  Those consumers, in turn, pay a participation fee in advance.  By “pre-paying” for their food, the subscribers help the farmers defray the costs of production and also help the farmer know that there will be a waiting market for their food.  But CSA consumers don’t so much “buy” food from particular farms as become a “participant” of those farms and help to support their local farming community.” – Old Pine Farm
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Photography from annarbor.com by Kim Bayer
Above is a picture of one of the produces boxes available weekly during the growing season to the CSA community from $15-$75/week depending on which farm you choose and how much food you need.

I have recently stumbled upon something even better than ranting about food to people who don’t care, or picking from the great, but still limited, selection at the grocery store: Community Supported Agriculture or CSA farm shares
Holy Cow! This is awesome. Thank you Ann Arbor. I forgive you for waiting to plow my street until 3 days after it snowed 10 inches ( happened 3 times in February alone) and then when you plow, you plow it into the bottom of my driveway where it turns in to frozen icy concrete which can only be removed by 3 hours of shoveling.  I still do not forgive you for my horrendous property taxes and jaw dropping heating bill.

CSA farm shares allow me to have fresh picked locally grown produce delivered to my doorstop weekly, for ~$30? I can have bison, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck, and eggs from a local farm butchered and sold to me in bulk for the same price as the grocery store? Yeah!!!

So I have signed up with Old Pine Farm, for $525 I get 15-18lbs of meat for the next 4 months. My monthly share will be something like this:
*Full Share Example The shares will contain a variety meats which may include chicken, beef, lamb, pork, emu & bison.                                 
  • 2 whole 4-5lb (ea) chickens
  • 1, 3lb beef roast  
  • 2 pork chops (1 lb)   
  • 1 pkg of 2 beef T-Bone steaks (2 lbs)
  • 2 pkgs (1 lb ea) of ground beef
What a great opportunity I have to eat really healthy food and support my local economy. I can’t wait for this years growing season.

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