Monday, January 19, 2009

Talking About CSAs / Just Food Workshop

What is a CSA?

It is a direct market relationship in which farmers sell their produce directly to consumers, who purchase a share of the season's produce before the season begins. Through CSA, members develop a relationship with the farmer and the land on which their food is grown -- and share the risks that are inevitable during a growing season.

For talking about CSAs it is good to understand the benefits they provide all around, to farmers, to members, and to the larger community.

Benefits to Farmers:
-capital upfront
- consistent demand
- on the short term as well as year after year
- farmers say: ' don't grow anything you haven't already sold' -- and CSA allows for that!
- less work for farmer (no advertising, etc)
- members share the risks
- allows farmers to diversify
- farmers get better price because no middle man
- allows farmers to be organic (supports them in investing in better practices all aroun
- supports expansion of farmers business (like off-season enterprises such as pickles...)
- they know who is eating their food

Benefits to Members:
knowing your farmer and his practices
- fresh, organic, local food
- being part of a shareholder community
- less packaging
- confidence that the methods advertised (organic, etc) are actually being used
- learning about food, cooking, agriculture
- eating higher proportion of nutritious food -- because you have a load to get rid of every week!
- supporting a local farmer (and not some corporation somewhere)
- better cost
- better variety

Benefits to the Community:
increased access to fresh food
- creating a stronger urban/rural connection (economically and in our heads)
- makes organic food more affordable
- better for the environment
- supporting local economy and preservation of local farms
- brings together a broad community
- increases food security

Another way to think about CSA is to frame it as an issue of 1. economic justice and 2. environmental justice.

Economic Justice:
- making quality fruits and vegetables available in neighborhoods that wouldn't otherwise offer these products.
- providing the farmer with a more favorable share of the profit.

Consider this: in the Upper West side there are about 7000 people per grocery store. In Bedford-Stuyvesant there are more than 63,000 people per grocery store! People in these areas are forced to buy at convenience stores which charge on average 8% more than groceries.

Meanwhile, farmers are getting only 19 cents per dollar when you buy at a grocery! All the rest goes to shipping, packaging, processing, advertising. CSAs eliminate all the middlemen and give the full dollar to the farmer.

Environmental Justice:
- providing toxin-free food to communities (especially low-income communities) that are routinely exposed to a variety of environmental toxins
- making it possible for farm workers to work in an environment free of the chemical products routinely used in conventional agriculture.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Thanks for posting all this information! I'm looking forward to getting the word out about our CSA, and working on some of the infrastructure issues in coming weeks. And the farm sounds like it'll be great! Hurrah!