One of the easiest ways for a family in our area to cut their carbon footprint - and live a little healthier - is to join a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture. By choosing local, organic, fresh vegetables you can avoid more than 75% of the energy used to bring most food to your table.
According to research done by our local food guru Karen Shore, 40% of the energy consumed in the US food system is used in the production and use of fertilizers and pesticides. So if you're buying from a CSA, no energy used here.
Another 23% of the energy is used in the processing and packaging of food. Frozen food is especially energy-intensive. There's certainly no processing of your CSA vegetables. And if you return your CSA box each week, there's no packaging either. Five percent of energy in food comes from transportation. Local CSA farms are a lot closer than California - where more than half of all our fruits and vegetables are grown.
The final 32% of the energy in our food is used at home - freezing, refrigerating and cooking. If you serve your veggies raw, straight from the box to your table, you're a triple winner: low energy, high nutrition, great taste!
You may have seen Helen Nadel's post on Nextdoor Swarthmore recently. She announced that Greener Partners CSA is offering pick-up locations at the Swarthmore Co-op and at the Food Bank in Media. And if you sign up by the end of February, you get a $20 coupon!
Here's the rest of her post:
Our BYOB (Build Your Own Box) farm share is an easy way to get delicious, farm-fresh produce:
1) Go online each week and choose from a list of 10-12 available items. You get to choose your favorites -- and when you want to experiment.
2) The produce available during the summer share has tons of variety. There will be corn, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and other summer squashes, sweet peppers, eggplant, plus carrots, greens, lettuces, beets, watermelon radish, sweet potatoes, potatoes, melons, onions, garlic....
3) You will get a voucher each month for u-pick at Greener Partners' farm in Collegeville: flowers, herbs, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, green beans, blueberries, apples...U-pick will be open Tuesday through Sunday -- a great trip and the chance to connect with the farm.
4) The season is 24 weeks -- the start date depends on the growing conditions -- but likely end of May to mid-November.
5) A medium share is $475, which comes out to about $20 a week for 5-6 items ($275 at sign-up and $200 April 1st). An item might be a big bunch of carrots, 2 pounds of tomatoes or potatoes, 1/3 lb. spinach, or a head of lettuce, depending on the season.
6) The full share is $775, which gets you 10 items for $32 a week ($275 at sign-up, $250 April 1st, $250 June 1st).
7) If you are away on vacation, you can share your share with a friend, or it will get donated to a food bank.
8) Consider splitting a share with a friend or neighbor! That way you have summer vacations covered.