Community supported agriculture
In Stuffed and Starved, Checking out of Supermarkets, the last few pages focus on an alternative to the supermarket that we depend on so readily for the food we survive on and much more these days. Two of the solutions that Raj patel mentions are Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s) and Farmers markets. A Community Supported Agriculture consists of a contract between the farmer and the consumer and entails a weekly supply of food delivered to the consumer based on whatever is in season at that time. Members of CSA’s pay a yearly fee which covers farm costs such as operating costs, seeds, fertilizers, water, equipment maintenance etc and in return receive a portion of the crop yield from that season, realizing and agreeing to the risks of weather and bad harvests. Patel mentions that although CSA’s are a good way to reconnect with the producer of the food and decrease the path that the food takes before it gets to your mouth, they don’t necessarily create fair wages for the workers. Farmers markets hold a similar theory in which local farmers all bring their food to a common location usually weekly and sell it to the public.
I think that these two options as alternatives to our destructive supermarket system are very promising and if made more widespread could solve a lot of problems. There have been an increasing number of CSA’s around our nation since the 1950’s when there were only 50. In Minnesota, a Community Supported Agriculture called Fresh Earth Farms serves to our local population and grows fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers including 30 varieties of tomatoes, 10 varieties of potatoes and 10 of garlic. There are over 150 fruits and vegetables grown. Fresh Earth Farms offers a FruitShare, a MeatShare, a CheesesShare, a CoffeeShare, and a WinterShare for storage during the winter. A one person share is $275 while a four person share reaches $845 for one year. This is very cheap considering a family of four spends around $100 on groceries per week! This summer, I am traveling to Hawaii to take part in an experience called WWOOF, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. I will live there for a month (May to June) working for a farm that grows green tea, fruits (pineapple, mangoes, etc..) and vegetables. In exchange for my labor I will receive room and board for the whole time I am there. The diet is completely farm based and every weekend there is a farmers market in the local town where everyone brings food to share. This type of experience is very common in Hawaii and WWOOF has locations in over 40 countries worldwide. If the general public realized these benefits and committed to this way of agriculture, our food system could prosper. Locally grown food, distributed to a local community, creates a tight knit and sustainable economic and social system. When everyone agrees to a cooperative and accepts the ups and downs that potentially could change but knowing that they are in it together, less destruction and tainted economic and social issues will arise.