Know Your Food Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,065 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,688 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Know Your Food Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I channeled my despair over my non-producing cucumber plants, my acorn squashes (the bugs found them delicious), and my frostbitten cherry tomatoes, into something less sorrowful: realizing I could use a CSA for some of my veggie needs.

What’s a CSA, you may ask? Is it like CSI, Miami? Uh, no. Not so much. Less violence, more arugula. Less drama, more kale. Less movie stars, and more low-profile stars (like the oh-so-humble potato).

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s positively dreamy for beginning gardeners, such as Yours Truly. You support your local farmer by giving her a set amount at the beginning of the growing season, and she gives you a hand-picked bag of produce every week. While I may have grandiose dreams of perfectly flourishing gardens, they don’t always come to fruition (get it? Fruition? Fruit? Gardening? hah), and I might need some professional help.

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No, not that kind. Well, maybe that kind …

While I’m working on the hue of my thumbs (while not green, they are a shade up from the black they used to be … a nice gray, if you will), I will pledge to support my friendly, local professionals. I mean, how can you possibly go wrong with homegrown, local, fresh, organic, produce? Um, yeah. You can’t.

Did you know that most supermarket produce—besides being coated in toxic chemicals and bizarre waxes—lingers in trucks and boxes for up to a year in cold storage? Whaa? By that time, those brightly colored apples you’re so happy to find for 98¢ a pound have almost no antioxidants left in them at all. And your orange juice (that sneakily doesn’t really taste like oranges anymore) has probably been sitting in a vat for months and months, only to have some orange “flavor packs” stirred in. Aged wine? Yum. Aged OJ? Ick.

Yikes, yikes, and double yikes. Here’s where changing where you get your produce comes into play. The challenge for a lot of us is we really, really like “one-stop shopping.” I mean, come on, who wants to (and who has the time to) go to several different stores for different items? Can’t we all just grab a cart and get it all at once at McWalShop?

Well, make a small change, says I. Support your local farmers, who would love to cut you off a slice of their Golden Delicious, and who would happy to assure you it came fresh from a tree only a few hours before. You’ll taste the difference, by golly, and you’ll also bask in the warm glow that’s the feeling you get when you do something beneficial for the community.

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Once you’ve picked out your very own CSA, snuggle down with a bowl of fruit and a copy of The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Your brain, your heart, and your tummy will thank you.

Leave a comment 3 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    In our area, many CSAs also run stands at the Farmer’s Market so you can always take advantage of their offerings. I love that photo of all of the sunflowers and produce piled together!

  2. CSAs are truly the wave of the future for families especially who want to eat fresh and healthy. We have a number of them here in Lancaster County PA . Most are organic. We are also blessed with a number of local produce stands right on the farms, often with just an ” honesty box” to put the money in. As a small seed company many of my best customers all over the country are market growers or CSA owners. Michael Pollan is my hero. Read his other books too, especially his first bestseller ” The Botany of Desire”.

  3. Karlyne says:

    The Golden Delicious comment was right on for today! I’m picking up 25# from a local organic homeschooler (organic kids and apples!) today, and the applesauce I’m going to make for the grandkidlets will be in memory of my mom who loved Goldens!

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