July 28th, 2010
11:30 AM ET
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In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on the world's dietary tribes, customs and foodways we're attempting to do the same.

Also on the topic of community supported agriculture, watch Fresh farm food to consumers and 100 miles to meet their food

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Filed under: Business and Farming News • Clarified • CSA • Farms • News

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. G.

    We love supporting our local farmers, meeting them, getting to know them. My food blog focuses on this very theme and once you eat a real tomato, without pesticides and chemicals, there's no turning back.

    July 29, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  2. Jessica

    My husband and I are 2nd year members of a CSA. We love knowing where our food comes from! And some of the members have even been able to volunteer on the farm. Every week from June-November we get a share of delicious organic fruits and vegetables, which allows us to eat healthily and support a local farm. What could be wrong with that?

    July 28, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  3. Isolda

    I am so impressed with my CSA. This is the third one I've tried and it's by far the best. It's right in my town, and I get 20 weeks of fantastically varied, interesting organic produce. It's enough for my family and enough to donate. I know I used to spend a lot more buying overpriced, imported produce at Whole Foods.

    July 28, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  4. Sam Meyer

    Going through a CSA means there's far fewer middlemen than buying vegetables from a grocery store. Plus, the food is almost always better, sometimes organic, and always fresh and in season. Are these trolls seeing "community" and thinking it's a Soviet-style collective farm or something? Then they're missing the point.

    I just wish one near me worked well with my schedule; I miss CSA vegetables, and the occasional special basil and tomato shares. And I miss filling up my freezer with low-cost, high-quality pesto and spaghetti sauce.

    July 28, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
  5. Josh

    I completed my Sustainable Agriculture Apprenticeship on a CSA. It was a wonderful experience. All sorts and types of people coming together around food.

    To address the low pay...CSA help create a value-added product scheme. Farmers receive a more steady income that is based on community/relationships rather than precise output conditions.

    Some "farmers" or Agribusiness people (that's right–some of the largest farms in the US are owned by a single family still) make a very comfortable living by receiving farm subsidies to produce commodity crops (i.e. corn and wheat)–the majority of which are genetically modified (probably bad but not enough research on this) to endure harsh chemical and transportation conditions (definitely bad for everything but the companies selling the chemicals and transporting the goods). However the government does not typically subsidize fruits or non-commodity produce such as Heirloom tomatoes.

    Granted this is a very complicated issue that deserves more time than a message board post.

    July 28, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
    • Lenée

      You're right...a small post is definitely not enough space to discuss the topic of GMO's, etc. I recently saw a documentary focused on GMO's and specifically Monsanto's practices around the country and internationally. If you're interested, you can view it for free on Snagfilms.com. It's called "The Future of Food." Everyone should view this just to get a glimpse into big 'agri-business,' and the threat we face regarding the loss of heirloom seeds, development of harmful 'terminator seeds,' and the detrimental effects it has on small farmers. Monsanto seems to want to create a monopoly in seed production, and in the process they seem to be annihilating anything and everything that gets in their way. Scary, scary stuff, in my opinion! Peace~

      July 30, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  6. atf

    CSA's are fine, except for the poor farmer and his family who are working from dawn to dark for a much lower salary than many of those who are buying his produce. Local food is fine except many of those who want it wouldn't exchange their present salaries (and steady paychecks) for the farmer's income.

    July 28, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
    • jbuster

      Indeed the Farmer is working for less then the folks buying the produce, but the CSA is not to blame for that. In fact, the Farmer earns more for their labor though the CSA then if they sell to an industrial food processor. The CSA and reconnecting people to the fields that grow their food are part of the solution to this.

      July 28, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
    • Lenée

      I respectfully ask, what's your point? That is why we as consumers choose to spend our dollars on locally produced goods. To SUPPORT these farmers and producers, and hopefully increase their incomes. We know these farmer's work hard for their paychecks, as small as they may be, and there are those of us who appreciate their efforts and do what we can to support them. Most everyone has the freedom to choose their professions and how they earn a paycheck, and I'm sure many farmers knew what they were getting into when they decided to farm for a living. These farmers do work for low wages, unfortunately. I too, work for low wages, but because I choose to do what I do doesn't mean consumers should stop buying my product because they think I don't get paid enough. I'm sure many of these farmers wouldn't respond too kindly to this logic. I'm just trying to make sense of your reasoning behind your words.......Peace~

      July 28, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • kingbobb

      The farmer is free to quite and pursue something else if they ever find their chosen line unrewarding. And from what I've seen, CSA farmers feel a lot better about what they do than those contractor farmers that may as well be slaves to the industrial food chain. Who are forced to go so far in debt to purchase, on loan, proprietary equipment and facilities, and then forced to upgrade them, that they are forever under the thumb of their corporate masters. Yes, I pity the poor, free CSA farmer /eyeroll.

      July 28, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
  7. Kate

    I live in Cincinnati and subscribe to farmfreshdelivery.com. They deliver fresh produce from local farmers to my doorstep every week! It is similar to a CSA in that it supports local economy and agriculture but different in that you are able to customize the contents of the bin and add local groceries of all kinds as well. Everything is ordered over the internet and it is all absolutely fantastic!

    Hooray fresh veggies!!

    July 28, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
    • Lenée

      Kate, I too use a delivery service, much like you described, and I love it! For anyone in CA it's called PlanetOrganics.com. My only complaint is that they have yet to include the organic grocery delivery option to my area, but I get tons of beautiful, organic produce. I hope to get others on board in my area so they will expand the types of items they can deliver to me. I live in an agricultural area, surrounded by sustainable, and organic growers and producers, and I frequent our weekly farmer's market every Wed. (Yay! Today is farmer's market day!) but it's still difficult for me to find other grocery items other than the produce. My next step is to find a local CSA......Anyone in CA who knows of a delivery service that provides other organic items that are not produce?

      July 28, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  8. Floragirl

    I belonged to a food co-op and did community gardening in the early 70's. No such thing around where I live now. If there were, I'd belong to both.

    July 28, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  9. Robert W.

    I don't have a CSA that I know of in my area but I have a farmers market. Fresh vegtables almost always taste better then some that have traveled for a week to get to me.

    July 28, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
    • Terry

      Robert, try going to local harvest dot org. you enter your zip code and it'll let you know if there are any CSAs or co-ops in your area. it's how i found the co-op i used last winter when my CSA isn't running.

      July 29, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  10. Becki

    What is wrong with people today. Since when is joining any kind of group socialism. Farmers grow your vegetables because you don't have the land or the time. You and the farmer profit . Everyone is a hater. If you prefer to buy your vegetables from some third world country go right ahead. I'm not going to call you names.

    July 28, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
    • Bubba

      Hey, I'll call names for you: you guys are a bunch of third-world vegetable buyers!

      July 28, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  11. Bug

    Do I belong to a CSA? Yes, I do. I'm actually on my third year of being a member of a CSA. Why wouldn't I be? The CSA I belong to is part of a Catholic Workers movement and all of the members are also the volunteers that help the farm run, so not only do I get fresh delicious vegetables, but families in need in my community do too. The boxes are even delivered right to my door! For me, it's less about knowing where my vegetables come from–I live in the midwest; I don't have to go far to see fields of anything–and it's more about helping out a very worthy group and getting something in return.

    July 28, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  12. Wandering Mind

    CSA? In some circles, it stands for
    Confederate States of America

    July 28, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
    • Bubba

      Save your Dixie Cups. The South will rise again.

      July 28, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  13. Scargosun

    More people really should do it. I get a large box of fresh from the farm, organic veggies every week and I LOVE it! It's all around win for everyone involved. It is not a hassle at all. I go to my site that is a couple miles from my house, on my way home from work, pick up my box and go home to plan my yummy meals. The farmers benefit, the land benefits and we are more healthy for eating more veggies that are organic. For at least 26 weeks I get top quality produce for less than I would pay elsewhere.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
  14. Rachel

    Truth: I'm glad you're so against socialism in all possible forms, because it means that I can never accidentally run into you on a sidewalk, road, or park, as these things are all publicly funded and, therefore, socialist. I'm also glad that you won't be accepting any Social Security money when you retire, because that will leave more for me. And don't even consider calling 911; no police and fire services for you, better keep personal security on retainer! Oh, and if you attended a public school or state university, please give up your credentials and stop claiming them as education you've obtained; you'll need to go get new credentials through entirely private schools. Hope you have quite a few grand saved up, because of course you can't take out federal student loans to go there–publicly funded!

    Also, stop being a troll. :)

    July 28, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
    • joe08

      I'm going to politely disagree. A socialistic country owns several key industries in the country. Unfortunately, this appears to be the case now in America. The Federal Government owns most of GM and Chrysler. Supposedly to sell their shares later on, but for the present have place CEOs and placed restrictions on salaries. My concern with Government running businesses is that they tend to be less efficient, just look at British Motor Company which owned MG, Ashton Martin and Triumph, they are no longer around. I believe in locally run government project like sidewalks, these are logical, and usually done by a contractor. But owning most of the backing industry might not be beneficial.

      July 28, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
      • pv

        The Government owning of GM and Chrysler didn't happen by accident.
        They happened because the economy was tanked by Deregulated Credit Markets and fraud.
        Free Marketeers Goldman Sachs did quite fine with a Socialist Bailout from the Republican Treasury.
        and it happened under Socialist Bush?

        July 28, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
      • Reacharound

        Without the evil government, Ford and Chrysler would be so efficient that they wouldn't have to go to the trouble of existing at all!

        July 28, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
      • joe08

        Reacharound, who says the government is evil. I don't believe it is any more evil than Ford Itself. The first thing about economics is not to try to assign title such as "good" or "bad" there is just action and reaction. Perhaps Chrysler would have gone under, but who’s to say it wouldn't have been bought and restructured by another group of investors? We won't know. Right now that group of investors is us, through our government, maybe I'm wrong and Chrysler will run fine, but I think the history of the BMC will show up again/ On a side note Ford took a calculated risk of not excepting government money, and now enjoys more profit than the other 2 of the big three.

        PV, I think that collapse of the finical market had everything to do with Federal interference under both President Clinton and Bush. Both try to play the market to make more housing loans, in the end it failed. President Clinton ask lenders to make risky loans, and President Bush asked them to trade and sell the risky loans to create a market. They all have a hand in it.

        July 28, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
      • Scott

        That is just plain ignorant. The US Government did, in fact, take an ownership interest in those companies, but do not "own" them in a controlling sense that you seem to indicate. In fact, the point was to help them survive in a capitalistic economy, which they weren't able to do because of incompetent capitalists running them. The intent is for the US Government to DIVEST that ownership, but over time and in an orderly process. As long as this is a temporary and rare solution there is absolutely nothing socialist about it. I suppose you didn't like it when the US Government started ordering the Big 3 to build tanks and weapons instead of automobiles during WWII either. Just because the government has to step in on ocassion does not make this a socialist nation; if you want zero government intrusion you are a libertarian to the extreme, and need to find a forest somewhere so you don't interact with others.

        Ashton Martin never existed, but Aston Martin did, and still does. They don't sell a new car under $100,000 so only the most wealthy of us socialists can buy one. The others aren't around because the market moved against what they built, just like plenty of companies here.

        July 28, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
      • joe08

        Taking ownership interest is ownership, and I understand their reasoning and justifications for the temporary emergency purchase of the company. However, the government has had temporary project that go on and on before. Hopefully they will sell back the stocks when there is economic recovery and be able to pay off the loan they took to purchase the companies. When that happens everything will be fine. However until then we are operating under the definition of Socialism, whereas the government owns a part of an industry.

        I am not say that government invention is bad, certainly there is lots of good it brings. I love sidewalks as much as the next person, and I do not mind the government asking Ford to produce tanks, if the follow the correct procurement procedures. Whereas biding takes place and the government decides to buy the best valued tank. However when the government decides to dictate how to produce the best valued tank you will find ineffectiveness. Perhaps not with the final product, because I admire many soviet engineering designs, but most certainly with production costs.

        As far as Aston Marin, thank you pointing out my spelling mistakes. I am only an engineer and make many of them. But maybe you missed my point. The BCM cars remained static when the market changed. MGB's were using the 1798cc engine which was just an enlarged 1622cc engine from the MGA MKII, which was derived from the MGA's 1600cc engine. I tell you this because the engine used in the 1980 model is basically the same as the engine designed in the early 50's. Yes the market moved against them but Leyland let it happen. This is all ignoring the MGC and MGB V8 which were miss manged products by the BMC.

        July 28, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  15. Truth

    More socialism. Welcome to Obama's Amerikkka.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • Lucy

      Socialism? I belonged to a CSA before Obama was president. It's about knowing where and how your food is grown and supporting the local economy! Watch Food, Inc. and you might understand that industrial food prep is quite scary.

      July 28, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
    • Cameo

      What does this have to do with Obama or politcs at all?? Way to let your ignorance show...
      CSA's have been in AmeriCa since at least the 1980's. Fresh locall grown veggies are delicious.

      July 28, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
    • Bubba

      "Truth" has Obama on the brain.

      July 28, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      I'm trying to comprehend how you got Obama and the KKK in the same post. You may want to check your head for softness, or maybe stop eating paint chips.

      July 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
    • Christine Anne Piesyk

      When I lived in New England, I belonged to several food coops and shopped at four of them regularly. Farm stands were everywhere and picking up fresh produce was a near daily activity. The absence of such opportunities in my current hometown is a definite negative, and one of many factors in my reevaluation of just how long I will stay here. Being a locavore is also tough when most local agriculture is growing for industrial use. I have not been able to buy fresh yellow beans here more than once or twice in the past six years. Eating fresh, unprocessed, glossy-waxed fruits and vegetables is a huge part of healthy eating, but it is harder do in the absence of farm and coop markets.

      July 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
    • kingbobb

      Socialism? It's pure capitalism. Consumers demand a product...sustainable, organic, fresh produce...and someone comes up with a way to meet that demand. How is that in any way socialism?

      July 28, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
    • Wisco

      Yes, socialism at its darkest: friends and community members enjoying vegetables together. What's next? Bake sales? Cake walks? This is so sinister. I must go back to my basement to chew shoe leather.

      July 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • Reacharound

      Private individuals organizing to pursue their interests? Pure Josef Stalin, that is.

      July 28, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
    • WildomarMom

      Truth would rather buy products grown in other countries as opposed to supporting local farmers, which appears unAmerican to me. This is a very sad Truth.

      July 28, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
    • chad

      socialism? interesting. my 20-week csa membership cost me $480. i thought everything in socialism was subsidized or free...

      July 28, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
    • cold springs farm

      Hate to tell you this, but CSA started long before the Obama administration. It gives small farmers like myself an opportunity to provide good, healthy food to members while they provide my farm an opportunity to grow without loans (CSA provides the farmer with capital for seeds, equipment, supplies). Sounds like true capitalism to me...I don't borrow money in order to grow, I depend on my members & they in turn, depend on me.

      June 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
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