The three pears symbolize food, knowledge, and pleasure.
Gastromancer Logo
Gourmandiary, June 2004
Home Page
Mastering the Mundane
Modern Food Issues
A Gourmands Diary.
About and Jason Ryan
Community Supported Agriculture

Back to School
This month's Gourmandiary starts out with a story of pride, the pride of ownership.  
the second week of June through the Thursday before Thanksgiving,
my vegetables
arrive for
me to eat.  And let me tell you, my vegetables are awesome.

Many thanks to our friends Paula & Greg who turned us on to the world of
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  Now it's my turn to encourage you to look
into this great opportunity to eat wisely and well.

What is CSA?  Rather than turn their farm over to the cultivation of all corn or soy
beans, our Farmer (
my farmer?) plants his (I mean my) twenty-five acre farm with a
huge variety of vegetables.  Each January people who want to eat these
vegetables pay around $400 to buy their 'share' for the year.  This entitles them to
a box of farm fresh veggies every week of the growing season.
Each Thursday we make our
pilgrimage to the 'drop off' where,
Each Thursday we make our long
time.  This is the kind of eating
pilgrimage to the 'drop off' where,
that I once did growing up behind
curtain number one, lie the
next-door to my grandmother's farm
eaten a tomato that is still warm
from ripening in the sun?  There's
no comparable experience to that
kind of freshness.

This study from the Leopold Center to reach your table, broccoli 1,846 miles, and
corn 1,426 miles.  Think of the costs to reach your table, broccoli 1,846 miles, and
truck or train, the cost of warehousing the food, refrigerating the warehouse,
loading the food, unloading the food, stocking the shelves and paying the cashier
to check you out.  What is there, about 100 calories in an apple?  Our society easily
of energy just to get the apple to us. What a waste!

The same report highlights the average distance locally grown versions of these
same fruits and vegetables travel; apples, 61 miles, broccoli, 20 miles, and corn, 20
miles.  Though
my farm also has some distribution costs to contend with, you can
see that they are exponentially smaller than is typical of food distribution costs.

What does this mean?  More of the money I pay for vegetables goes to the guy
who grows them.  This allows my farmer to break free of the mono-crop agricultural
practices that, during a year of tough weather, can lead to near financial ruin. He
gets his money up front and then budgets his expenditures for the year rather
than waiting to see how much he'll get paid in the fall for however many tons of
wheat, corn or soy he managed to grow that season.
week!  Want in?
Have a look at the database of CSA
Farms run by the USDA "Alternative
Farming Systems Resource Center".

This website has tons more info on
the nature of CSA, how it works,
and the art of regional and
seasonal eating.

He runs Brookfield Farm in Amherst Massachusetts.  Brookfield Farm became the
third "Community Supported" farm in the USA in 1986, starting off with 55
shareholders and 4 acres of vegetables. Last year the farm was supported by
570 families and planted 25 acres of vegetables.  Way to go!

That's my farm...!
Back to School
inviting me to come play for a morning.

Let's see, we learned all about the five different tastes, and tried some miso
soup (all except one kid for the first time!) to see if we really thought that Umami
should be included in that list.  "Sure!", they said.

We dyed our tongues blue and counted our taste buds to see if we had any
super tasters in the crowd.  Nope, but we did find out why a few of the kids love
chili and jalapeno poppers!  No taste buds!

We also played pin-the-food-on-the-country, and messed around with calorie
cards so we might learn what kinds of foods we could eat without going over  
our 800 calorie per-meal limit.

Would you like to play too?  Click
here for the cards I made.  Cut them out and
play calorie blackjack, but don't "bust your gut" by holding more than 800
calories in your hand at once!
Eat thoughtfully for full pleasure!