|graphic courtesy of the Louis Bonduelle Foundation website|
Since reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I have thought about food and the origin of what we eat in a whole new way. Some members of my family tease that three years of living on Vancouver Island has turned me into one of those “granola-types”… and that’s OK with me. The benefits of eating organic aside, the case for local food is strengthening as we watch soaring fuel costs and predictions of higher food prices in coming months.
Jeff and I both grew up with large gardens in our backyard. Last year, I had great intentions of turning our established flower jungle into a vegetable garden…. until I started my master’s program. We managed to convert one flower bed into an herb garden (convert might be a strong word as we battled the returning Bishop’s Weed all summer and expect to do the same this spring) but that was it. Thankfully, we were able to purchase a lot of fresh produce from the Okanagan (delivered here on the Island every week) but it was not quite the same.
This year, we have bought shares in a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) cooperative through the Crazy Dog Farm down the road in Crofton. Essentially, this share divides into a flat-rate for 20 weeks; this flat-rate buys us a weekly box of whatever fruit and vegetables is ripe for picking that week. Not only do we get the freshest of local produce, we financially support local farmers and “share” in both the risks and benefits of farming. If the tomato crop is wiped out by blight, for example, we don’t get tomatoes. But if the tomato crop is a bumper one, we will be canning (and canning, and canning!) tomatoes. The box size varies each week (with the biggest boxes expected in August and September) but we are guaranteed to receive something from the first week in June until the middle of October. I admit- I am a little nervous about the feast or famine nature of this venture but am excited about the prospect of eating the very freshest of what is in season and learning to use items that I do not have a lot of experience with. I really have no idea what to do with fava beans or kohlrabi… but learning this, I think, will be part of the adventure.
As a way to challenge my own learning and keep myself accountable to use everything we receive, I’m going to take a photo of the contents of each week’s box of fruit and veggies and share what we do with it. Suggestions, recipes and ideas are most welcome! Stay tuned for the first week in June for this adventure to begin.