Growing vegetables instead of corn: CSAs

Now that corn prices are falling and the market for fresh local produce is booming, farmers in the midwest are switching some land over from high-starch corn varieties (used for ethanol, cattle feed, and high fructose corn syrup) to fresh fruits and vegetables. According to an article in today’s Times, CSAs, buying groups, and consortia are springing up to buy the produce. Turns out that farmers can make much more money per acre growing produce than growing corn for industrial agriculture. This is good news for the farmers, for the environment, and for people’s health.

CSAs and other farm-to-table groups have been active in the east and west for sometime. If you google “farm to table” you’ll find information about local farms that supply restaurants, schools, other institutions, and CSAs throughout the country. This is the time of year to sign up with a CSA for the coming season. CSA stands for community supported agriculture–basically, you buy a share of the farmer’s produce for the growing season. For a seasonal fee (typically $20-30 per week) you get a weekly share of everything the farmer grows. The farmer gets a degree of crop insurance–farming is always a risky business–and you get fresh, delicious produce as well a convenience.

How do you find a CSA? The JerseyFresh website has a list, by county (none listed for Bergen County). The Local Harvest website gives general information about CSAs and other sources of fresh local food as well as a nationwide directory. The CSA we belong to, Hesperides Organica, is located in Warwick, NY, and delivers once a week to several locations throughout Bergen County. Something to think about on this dark, cold, snowy day.

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