The spring harvest is upon us, and in many communities, it's the last call to sign up for a CSA for the full growing season. But before making the leap and joining one, consider whether the program is right for you. There are many pros and cons to weigh, and the summer can be an unexpected time - for you and that farm. Here's a handy list of pros and cons about CSA as opposed to other modes of food-shopping.
'farming' on Serious Eats
We visited Sri Lanka (watch this video for a taste of our journey) with every intention of filming a story about an organic, fair-trade tea farmer. That's exactly what we were planning when setting foot upon the small tea farm of Piyasena and his wife Ariyawatha. What we didn't expect was to be so taken with the relationship between the two of them.
"Soil possesses such importance, that without it, life is impossible. In one spoon of soil, there are billions of lives," says farmer/philosopher Bhaskar Save in this video. We spent two days with him in India, being inspired by his beautiful philosophy. He believes farming should be done with non-violence. That means no tilling, no pesticides, no meat.
On our recent trip to India (side note: you've seen this, right?), we got a wake-up call from environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva on the reality of these issues and how they can impact farmers to the point of suicide.
A common critique of the locavore food movement is that it's elitist. In the case of Jason Ring, that couldn't be further from the truth. He raises chickens, goats and pigs to take some financial grocery pressure off his income. In his small backyard in San Diego, Jason provides a large portion of his family's food, as well as a fair share of their life lessons.
"When I eat them I know what animal I'm eating. I know their tag number; you start to recognize them." So says Anna Hodson, a shepherd at Kinderhook Farm, which has 1,200 acres of land in the Hudson Valley that is mostly devoted to livestock, including a herd of 450 sheep that she watches over. Take a look at the video to see what goes into raising them.
Serious Reads: Greenhorns, edited by Paula Manalo, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, and Zoe Ida Bradbury
With the rise of the "locavore" movement and more awareness of sustainability and food production issues, more young people are choosing farming as a promising and rewarding career. Some of these new farmers were selected to write essays for Greenhorns: 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers' Movement.
In this Urban Gardener series, I'll share my ups and downs in the pursuit of healthy, affordable homegrown fare in my own backyard. Here's Part One, an introduction to what you'll need to get started, what to plant, and more answers for fellow aspiring gardeners.
It's not often that you look at a suburban backyard to find a man herding goats, but that is what people in one neighborhood in Louisville experience every day. Burundian refugee Jean-Marie herds goats within the Louisville, Kentucky, city limits. He sells them to the growing immigrant and refugee population. Goat isn't yet popular with all Southerners, but it reminds Jean-Marie of his homeland. This video captures the day we spent with him and his family.
This short film was made in Immokalee, Florida, where one-third of the tomatoes in our grocery stores are grown. The Perennial Plate spent a day with Lupe Gonzalo, a tomato picker and organizer for CIW (Coalition of Immokalee Workers). The Coalition is fighting to change the way our country's tomato laborers are treated.
Ever wonder what it's like to own a coffee farm? Byron Holcomb, director of coffee for Dallis Bros. Coffee Roasters, happens to know first hand, so we asked him.
Janus Youth Programs has operated community-based programs for children, youth, and families in Oregon and Washington since 1972. They have a network of over 20 programs includes, including Janus Food Works, which employs 14 to 21 year-olds from Portland. The youth get involved in the planning, growing, selling, and donating of over 4,000 pounds of organic produce each year from the one-acre organic farm on Sauvie Island.
This video tells the story of several different New Orleans residents who came back to the city after the storm to rebuild and start making food in abandoned lots. You can't really tell a New Orleans story without music, but thankfully one of our farmers happened to play in the Treme Brass Band! Special thanks to BrassRootsmovie.com for letting us tag along for their film shoot.
Though small farms are suffering from poor weather conditions, large-scale agriculture is also vulnerable. Rain is the primary problem facing growers in the Midwest and Northeast, but severe drought is causing alarm in Texas and other southwestern states. Two main crops affected so far are corn and wheat, and both commodities' prices have gone up as a result.
In a few months, debates will begin of the 2012 Farm Bill, the enormous set of policies that details agricultural activity in the United States. Hearings for the Bill began nearly a year ago, with testimony from citizens and organizations who felt compelled to share their outlook on farm policy. Soon we will begin hearing much more about the cost, impact, and ethics of this bill. So, before the debates kick into high gear, how about a quick history lesson?
In the latest video from Food Curated, Liza de Guia meets Ed Tuccio, a farmer on the North Fork of Long Island who's been raising bison for over 30 years. He's part of a small movement of passionate farmers working to bring bison back. It's actually not a bad time to be a bison farmer. There's a growing demand for the meat and prices have doubled. After this taping, Liza polished off a bison burger and walked away thinking, why don't I eat this more often?
Once upon a time, Kristin Kimball was a freelance writer living the young person's lifestyle in New York: crappy apartment, lots of caffeine, and an oven used for sweater storage. Then one weekend she was sent to do a profile of a farmer in Pennsylvania. Mark lived in a trailer and worked the surrounded land with boundless energy—he was at once challenging, spontaneous, and overwhelmingly charming. The two began dating, in a whirlwind courtship that led to Mark proposing a move to New Paltz, New York. The two would start a farm. At times I found myself so moved by Kimball's narrative, I had to put the book down.
The Mote Marine Laboratory's Siberian Sturgeon Program in Sarasota, Florida, has spent over a decade developing recirculating aquaculture technology as an eco-friendly and sustainable way to grow farm-raised sturgeon in the United States. In the latest episode of Food Curated, documentarian Liza de Guia gives us a tour of the facility with Program Manager Jim Michaels.