Several years ago, I had an “Aha Moment.” It was a food and health moment, and a personal responsibility moment. During my book club’s “foodie summer,” I was mesmerized by Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle— by her family’s ambitious undertaking to become Southern Appalachian farmers and locavores, by the pages packed with alarming statistics and data about our nation’s flawed food systems and eating habits. I delved into Michael Pollan’s works, as well as the messages of Alice Waters, Mark Bittman, and other champions of local eating. I marveled at all that can and does result from the humble concept of procuring one’s food locally and seasonally.
But what to do?
I am a City Girl through and through. I want to plant, grow, harvest, can, cook, and freeze vegetables a million ways, but I hate dirt under my nails. I’m nervous if I can’t yell to my nearest neighbor, and, honestly, farm animals, even chickens and goats, scare me – ask my children!
The answer for me was to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). A CSA is a brilliant way to connect grower and consumer, whereby one purchases shares of the farm bounty. By entering this partnership, and thus subscribing to some of the most basic and simple of food principles— produce grown with care, harvested at the just right moment, brought directly from the farm, and enjoyed in the spirit of the season— I could make an impact.
I am not a trained, gourmet chef. I do not create my own fabulous recipes. I do not have a chic, modern kitchen with lavish appliances and accoutrements. I trick myself into believing I’m getting a kitchen makeover each time I change the oil cloth that hides my Cost Plus table.
However, I am fond of cooking and operating as household “kitchen manager” (self-promoted), and have a general affinity toward mindful, healthful eating (except for marshmallows, movie popcorn, pie, and a few other evils). I care deeply about fueling my family with real, whole, chemical-free foods. And, most importantly, I believe whole-heartedly in the institution of the family dinner. I cook nearly every evening in our modest kitchen, with my family of four squeezing, scooching, and elbowing our way in, so that we might gather and share a daily meal together.
Joining a CSA seemed like a dream come true— fresh, local vegetables delivered weekly from what I now so appreciatively call my farm. The age-old struggle of “what’s for dinner?” over! No longer would I have that overwhelming blank slate staring me in the face! With my kitchen brimming with bounty, I could create a weekly meal plan starring the veggies—not as a side, afterthought, or obligation, but truly as the meal’s inspiration.
Cooking and eating delectable farm fresh vegetables, supporting my local Northwest farmer, and voting with my fork for a more sustainable food system: that’s what’s on the table for me. And for you? I hope I’ll be serving up inspiration, ideas, good recipes, and new resources. Join me as I ponder and plan my weekly menus; join me at my Urban Farm Table.