Hello CSA Members,
We hope that you’re enjoying August. If you’re enjoying August someplace else, happy vacation! Please remember to let us know if you don’t expect to make it to pick up your share.
The Washington Post recently ran an article on “wasted food” (In U.S., food is wasted from farm to fork, August 22, 2012). I’m not here to tell you to clean your plates, but author Dina El Boghdady may help us be better farmers and eaters.
El Boghdady reports that there is waste at nearly every step in the food chain. The steps that take food a couple thousand miles (on average) from field to harvesting machine to packing houses to aggregators and warehouses to trucks to other warehouses to retail stores to home. Food is lost each step of the way, in the field and in transit (interesting side note: despite now using 20 times the amount of insecticide than used sixty years ago, conventional agricultural losses to insects have gone from 7 percent of the pre-harvest crop to 13 percent; and total U.S. crop losses are 20 percent higher overall). Of course, we take a lot of links out of that chain, and just by being part of Community Supported Agriculture we’re all creating an alternative system. But even here we still feel pressure at the farm to provide produce with few, if any, cosmetic blemishes—the kind of culling that supermarkets require for uniformity and marketability. We appreciate that you recognize that the best pepper isn’t always the prettiest one, and that a smaller fruit may be much sweeter (same amount of sugar, less water!). And likely healthier, too: plants stressed by normal field conditions generally respond by producing more phytochemicals such
as antioxidants, vitamins, and essential oils.
Near the end of the story, El Boghdady reports that wasting food tops the list of things we do that leave us with “green guilt,” 39 percent of respondents, more than the 27 percent that leave the lights on and the 21 percent that don’t recycle. I’m sure you’re all eating every last piece of vegetative matter we put in your share each week, so this doesn’t apply to you. But consider allowing the farm to take any unused produce from you or your neighbor. Stems and cores and extra leaves from dinner prep are “biological resources,” not waste, but something that can be recycled as part of a composting process. These are biological as opposed to technological materials, which would require a technological process to cycle. Well, we like compost; it allows us to give back to the soil more of what we take from it. We can work together to close the farm-to-table loop a little more. So please feel free to bring us your vegetable scraps, your unused Swiss chard that is beyond resuscitation, even the dried out bouquet of sunflowers on your dining room table. Please no moldy food or meat scraps for now!
Have a good week and be great,