Holy Reverie is the weekly clergy column in Calvary's electronic newsletter, the e-Pistle. Subscribe today!
This spring, my family bought a share of a CSA. CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture" and a share is a contract between farmer and consumer. The consumer provides compensation up front and in return receives a measure of fresh vegetables for a set number of weeks. Some CSAs last longer than others, some CSAs provide more or less food, and some CSAs include fruit, eggs, flowers, and even meat. Regardless, the CSA model greatly benefits both sides of the equation. According to localharvest.org, the farmers receive more cash flow early in the season, more time to tend the crops in midseason, and the opportunity to foster a relationship with their customers. Customers receive extremely fresh food, exposure to a wider variety of foods, and the challenge to cook seasonally. Moreover, CSAs guarantee that food is conscientiously grown and harvested, using methods that are environmentally sensitive and employing workers that are treated humanely, and, due to the close proximity of farmer and consumer, creating as small of a carbon footprint as possible. For more information, or to join a CSA, two good places to start are the Downtown Farmers' Market or the Cooper-Young Community Farmers' Market.
Now, that all sounds well and good, but my gluttonous self loves my CSA because the veggies are yummy! My kids think they are yummy too (and they're eating their veggies)! I enjoy having to create a menu around what we receive, rather than the reverse (although, I must say, I was running out of ideas for what to do with all the kale in the spring). And, I love watching my daughter's face and listening to the questions she asks when we pick up our share.
As our world becomes smaller and our economies more intertwined, and as we become more aware of how our choices effect others, I believe Jesus' call to "love our neighbor as ourself," is worth remembering. As consumers, we have many choices: some we have to make, some we can make, and some we can manage creatively. But I pray that all of us who can choose, do so consciously of how our choice might effect others. Such choices might be difficult and the benefits might not be immediately quantifiable or tangible. A CSA might not work for you (and my family's share is certainly a drop in the bucket), but all of us can think about how what we do effects countless others on, "this fragile Earth, our island home."