Thursday, July 05, 2007

Slow Foods

One of the really cool ideas that is taking off on in the information is the idea of Community Supported Agriculture. CSA is a way to get fresh locally produced foods from the farm onto kitchen tables. Rather than shopping at a store for vegetables, you buy a share of a farmer's crop. You pick up your portion of the crop throughout the year.

CSAs are a bit information intensive. The farms that engage in this practice need to send out newsletters and harvesting schedules so that their customers can have some idea of what to expect. Farms are also wise to share recipes.

The site Slow Food Utah has information on CSAs, Farmers Markets and other techniques to reacquaint people with food. I've had food from East Farms.

The only real problem with slow foods is that you end up needing to schedule yourself around the food. IMHO, the effort needed to sync one's life to the harvesting cycle of the land has all sorts of benefits. It saves a great deal of engery. You get better food and probably live a healthier life.

Since this is a political blog. I guess I need to say something political. When I was a kid big agriculture and processed foods were seen as progressive. Small farms were seen as quaint, old fashioned relics. Preserving such farms was a Conservative issue. Today, it things seem to have flipped flopped and the progressive community has embraced the idea.

I think that supporting small farms and encouraging the consumption of local produce is a good idea regardless of one's personal's political perspective. Here are some Salt Lake Agriculture Links.


Scott Hinrichs said...

And not to mention that if this stuff is anything like homegrown produce, the taste and texture you get beats anything you buy in the supermarket hands down!

Perhaps this would be a good time to note that our nation's agriculture laws and regs strongly favor the big and ever expanding farming conglomorates. These bills regularly get broad support from senators and representatives from both major political parties.

I wonder what would happen if we cut farming subsidies loose and let the market do its thing. Alas, this seems to be the impossible dream.

y-intercept said...

Our agricultural laws were set back when big agriculture was progressive. Now that small fresh food is seen as progressive, we might see some counterbalancing mistakes of the past.

I fear that the CSA craze might lead to a new round of subsidy giving.

Personally, I think it is a good economic model. The model allows a small farm to become a local brand. It allows for greater biodiversity at small local farms. The really big advantage of the farm share model is that it is a market mechanism that helps reduce the risk of the farmer.

Members of the community buy a share of the crop at the beginning of the season. This means that the community is sharing in the risk of the venture for the year. This is a small community based futures market. This allows the farm to concentrate on the farming and the quality of their brand.

The business model itself is sound. It gets better quality food into our stomaches, it reduces inorganic waste. For example, you get to reuse the produce boxes and there is less energy consumed transporting the food from farm to table.

CSAs are good because they have a good business model.

The fact that the progressive community promotes CSAs is great. I hope that the progressive community avoids the knee-jerk progressive impulse for government control and regulation of CSAs.