Farm Sharing!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hey everyone!  I haven't posted anything this week because I am so excited that my parents Farm Share starts this week!  I would like to share with you a blog post from Adam's blog (Eat. Run. Rehabilitate.) and actually it was a guest post for his blog... So, that would make this like a double-guest blog post right!?  Well anyways this post was always one of my favorite guest posts of Adam's and it just happens to relate to my excitement of this week!  Please read the post Jordan wrote below.  You can find Jordan on Twitter, his handle is @J_AndersonAT.

As most of you know now because of the news and various other outlets, our food has become riddled with growth hormones, pesticides, preservatives, and other unnatural substances.  Sure, this makes most produce look, feel, and sometimes even taste better.  All of these things have been developed over many years by bioengineers and has become the norm.  These additives are true of both meat and produce.  Some recent literature is linking these additives to metabolic disease and the components of such.  Not only do these things contribute to the problem, but also the food that animals are fed before they are processed for sale to us plays an even bigger role.  

For instance, many beef cattle are fed a combination of grains, animal bi-product, and given growth hormones.  This combination makes it inexpensive for large farms to feed their cattle but also produce HUGE amounts of food.  The problem is inherent, cattle are not meant to consume these things.  Cattle are grazers and survive off of local vegetation, mostly grass. This is where the term “grass fed” comes from when purchasing beef.  

The same also applies to eggs and chicken.  Chickens that are “cage free” are able to roam the land and search out their natural diet which includes things like insects, vegetation, and fruits.  However, some companies will trick consumers into labeling a chicken or eggs with “all-natural” fed with an all grain diet.  This is obviously NOT a chicken’s natural choice for food. This all-grain diet taints the chicken’s meat and their eggs.  

Eggs are nature’s perfect food when the chickens that produce them eat their natural diet. Yolks are especially high in essential Omega-3 and low in Omega-6 fatty acids, and do not contain much LDL lipoproteins (bad cholesterol, except for the big fluffy molecules which can be protective) and also contains HDL (good cholesterol, it exists!), but when these chickens are fed all grain diets, these things are not as prevalent and higher proportions of LDL and omega-6 fatty acids are found.  This gives eggs a bad name when in reality they are great foods.

A summer produce season is typically the longest.  Many of these farms offer several delivery options.  The most common is to pick them up at the farm, some deliver to local farmers markets and small produce shops, a select few even home deliver for an extra fee.  The amount of produce you get is typically a “bushel” or a large crate size (2.5 paper grocery bags).  One of the best aspects of this service is you are assured to get fresh and in-season vegetables.  

Having in-season vegetables opens you up to experiment with different vegetables and flavors you may not be accustomed to.  Do you really think that cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and avocados are truly farmed ALL YEAR?  No way, these out of season vegetables are often preserved and farmed under mechanical and controlled means, not naturally.  CSA assures that everything you get is in-season and farmed the right way!  As far as meat goes, the most common options are chicken, beef, and eggs.  You can often add two dozen eggs to your weekly order for a very reasonable charge.  Obviously adding beef or chicken is more expensive but still worth it.

Another potential downside is the types of season offer different vegetables. Summer seasons are usually plump with vegetables that we find more “common”, leafy greens, “fruit” vegetables, and some more commonly found veggies.  However, winter season is more squash heavy and may have some less common vegetables than you may be used to.  

The last downside I will discuss is that you are at the mercy of the crop.  By that, I mean that if the farm is having a bad season, you have a bad season.  Most CSA shares are accompanied with a clause that states you will not be refunded and you are at the risk shared by the farmers.  However, most CSA farmers will do their absolute best to continue to fill their orders because their customers are more important to their business that anything else.  Some people feel a connection with their farm through this and develop a good relationship with their local farmers.

So the ultimate question remains.  What can we do about this, where can I find these non-modernized foods and go back to the way these plants and animals were meant to be eaten?? And where on earth can I find them for a reasonable price?

The answer is community supported agriculture or CSA.  CSA is a great service that has been around for years but is terribly underutilized.  CSA is a service that gives you direct access to local farmers.  The majority of these farms are certified organic (make sure to check!) and produce their food the right way!  How CSA works are “shares”.  Most offer full, half, or flex shares.  A full share is for a whole season, half is for half a season or bi-weekly, and flex shares are week by week and are often more expensive.  A season is dependent on the time of the year and can be shorter or longer than other seasons.  These are often delivered weekly, or bi-weekly (half shares).   

Some downsides of this service are that you usually cannot pick the items you get in your bushel of produce.  You are at the mercy of what the farmers have readily available and what they can use to fill your bushel to the max.  There are, however, some farms who for an additional fee will allow you to pick the produce you want.  These are often more expensive and are still not guaranteed based on availability.  

Let’s put this to the test, my typical weekly grocery bill is around 75-90$ (I eat paleo, so mostly veggies and meat, some fruit).  That makes it about 300-360$ a month.  So let’s say the summer season is 12 weeks long that equals around $900-$1,080 a season.  That’s a lot of cash! One CSA farm I found offers a full share of veggies for this same time period for $720.  That’s a potential savings of $360 just on veggies!  All options are worth looking into and it may not be right for you, but it’s at least worth investigating and could be the start to your new organic, seasonal, and fresh food lifestyle!

This is the original CSA website where you can search for farms based on your zip code:
This site is more for the Chicago area (my local area) and offers other organic options and is a great resource for local farmer’s markets:

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