Sustainable FarmingI had lunch with my good friend, Marguerite, today. She is a firm believer, like me, in buying local eating fresh; in other words supporting sustainable farming. By definition sustainable farming is the practice of using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It is “an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term.”

Marguerite has been part of a vegetable coop program offered at her children’s school for the past four years. Some of the reasons she cited for joining is to support local farmers, eat healthier and the concept is broader, acting local and thinking global. She proceeded to tell me that the vegetables are excellent quality and her children have tried and like new vegetables introduced through this program. Community Supported Agriculture or CSA is a partnership between a customer and a farmer. These programs are popping up all over the place. Produce is delivered to one convenient location for pick-up. You also have to take a realistic approach; you will spend more money and there is no guarantee or money back if there is a bad season.

TThe benefits do outweigh the risks. You receive the freshest vegetables that are pesticide free and organic, which in turn may help with allergies and other health conditions. Vegetables are delivered to one location (point of delivery). There is usually a variety; sometimes you might get a lot of one vegetable, not enough of another and every once in a while a rare vegetable is produced.

Nothing makes you happier than preparing these precious and special vegetables for your family and friends. Almost everyone appreciates the versatility of broccoli, the sweetness of sugar snap peas, the potency of asparagus and the delicate flavor of spinach. Marguerite was kind enough to share one of her favorite quick and healthy spinach recipes.

The aforementioned CSAs are groups of people pooling their food orders for delivery to a convenient location.

Length of buying options: Varies

Benefits: You are supporting local economy and farms, empowering farmers to remain independent, reducing your carbon footprint, food does less traveling; receive fresh produce, pasture-raised meats, and farmstead cheeses.