What is a #CSA Food Share?

An example of a CSA Food Share

Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, is a way to buy produce, eggs and sometimes farm raised meat directly from a local/regional farm.

You, the customer, invest in a “share” ahead of the planting season to guarantee your food harvest in the spring/summer months. Monies go towards seeds, planting and harvesting so that you get farm to table fresh food every week during the season.

One local CSA in Northwest Ohio is Riehm Farms. It’s family owned and run near Tiffin, Ohio.

A regional CSA is Yellowbird Food Shed, a partnership of area farms in Ohio and Tennessee that deliver food shares throughout Ohio.

CSA Facts and FAQs

Why should I invest in a CSA?
When you join a CSA, you make a choice to help create a sustainable food system and you have a whole season to fresh, quality food that was grown with intention and close to your home.

Locally grown vs store bought?
A CSA share is locally produced, it is rich in the valuable nutrients and flavor that is lost in transit when food is shipped from thousands of miles away.

More variety than store bought produce.
Small family farms plan a diverse variety of food that they grow on their land. This offers so many more choices that have been ignored due to the industrialized farming model. Not only is the food fresh, but regional farms offer local artisan products and heirloom varieties that you would not find at a store.

Less toxic chemicals including pesticides are used on crops.
Many CSAs use sustainable methods without the use of harsh chemicals, including  pesticides. While CSAs are not labeled certified organic by the federal government, they are in the truest sense, organically grown.

Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows your food.
Have questions about what’s in your weekly food share? Not sure how to store or use the food share? This is your opportunity to talk to the people who grow your food. Establish a relationship, and learn more about the food you’re eating. You cannot get this information if you buy it from a grocery or big box store.


Wholesome Foods Are Expensive for Small Budgets

In search of wholesome vegan and vegetarian food brands. Looked in 4 stores in the Cleveland suburbs including Marc’s, Aldi’s, Acme, and Whole Foods Market and haven’t found brands suggested.

I love perusing new grocery stores, farmer’s markets and community gardens in search of the best wholesome local food. However, wholesome does not equal wholesale prices.

whole foods market logoEver since I watched Oprah’s staff go vegan for a week and listened to the complaints as well as the accolades of how much better they felt and some staff members actually lost weight, I’ve been in search of the wholesome vegan and vegetarian brands mentioned on the show. So far, I’ve only found the website and their fan page, I have looked in 4 stores in the Cleveland suburbs including Marc’s, Aldi’s, Acme, and Whole Foods Market and haven’t found one of the brands mentioned.

I did, however, find several other “meatless and soy-free” frozen products, which wasn’t what I was looking for since I really like the soy products and not the vegetable protein crumbles that resemble meat. These generic and name brand products were outrageously expensive for such a small serving. For example, 1 box of meatless chicken patties cost nearly 6 bucks and only contained 4 patties. Products such as these do not fit within my small monthly food budget for 2 people.

My son and I did find fairly good prices on organic and specialty dairy products and soy milk. We have taken a liking to soy milk both for drinking, adding to morning coffee and cooking with it. And it seems to last a little longer in the frig too.

Overall, I found 4 out of 5 items on my small grocery list at Whole Foods Market, and a couple other inexpensive items including frozen soy beans and organic yogurt. My total for about 15 items…$33.64. Between local farmer’s markets, Trader Joe’s, Aldi’s and Whole Foods I think I might be able to squeeze in some wholesome meals that are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.

Where do you find the best prices on organic foods, or wholesome local foods in your neck of the woods?

#Food Prices Increase, Food Manufacturers Turn to Soy

As the Cost of Food Goes Up, Will We See More Consumers Buying Local and Less Meat to Curb Food Spending?

Three times is the charm or the price increase for many foods this year. First read it on one of the newsletters I receive (see stats below), then it was the topic of a NPR radio program the other day and now another story from Business Week about manufacturers turning to soy as “The Other, Other White Meat.” It was a matter of time before the steep increase of fuel and agriculture caught up to the rest of us.

Here’s what I learned this week about the cost of food for 2011

According to the Greenest Dollar and Richard Benson, from Financial Sense, food prices will see a sharp increase…these are all increases from the previous year

Coffee — 45%
Barley — 32%
Pork — 68%
Oranges — 35%
Cotton — 40%
Salmon — 30%

We will be spending more on not only fuel for our cars, but also food including groceries and restaurants. This may induce panic, but you can curb your spending if you shop locally for fresh produce in season, eggs from local farms or roadside stands, grain fed beef and pork only within your locality or look to replace your main meat staple with soy or fish.

Plant a garden in your yard or even grow lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, strawberries and smaller but high yield plants in pots if you don’t have a yard to dig in the dirt. I learned from a friend that lettuce does well in the shade, and I have a lot of shade on my 4th floor patio. You can hang tomato plants in the sun, and rotate them to shade on especially hot days. Start with seedlings indoors on your window sill that gets the most sun, and then move them outside when the weather warms up. Can and freeze your crops or join a CSA and get fresh food all season long.

Food manufacturers are also turning to soy products after learning that’ USDA is now advocating Americans to eat soy,’ according to Bloomberg’s Business Week and the VegetarianStar. As long as the soy is not tainted with preservatives, and all that other junk food companies put in our food, this could be a more healthy alternative than eating beef and pork.

Now, it’s your turn, how are you going to combat the ever increasing prices of food this year?