You Are What You Eat

Why We Need Community Supported Agriculture

By: Samantha Ruiz

We live in a time where a significant percentage of the American population is obese, citizens are becoming ill from tainted food outbreaks and on average food travels over 5,000 miles to reach consumers. It is clear that we need policies that will look after our land, farmers and ourselves.

Since agriculture is a very regionalized practice the variation of policy initiatives are endless. From increased awareness and knowledge about agriculture and food production to requiring schools to purchase locally grown food, new approaches need to be taken that promote sustainable agriculture while still sustaining economic development in America.

In basic terms and as defined by the USDA, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge to support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes legally, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing risks and benefits of food production.

Many CSAs thrive where small farms can provide a diverse array of consumer ready products such as vegetables, fruits, herbs, eggs and honey to urban populations in close proximity to the farm. This concept depends on community and cooperation. However, if taken seriously, a direct relationship between what we consume three times a day is established and a better understanding of where our food actually comes from is created as well.

Besides the obvious, there are many other reasons as to why we should start considering the idea of eating more locally and creating opportunities for this idea to thrive. A research team in South East Toronto, took the time to investigate the deeper benefits of community supported agriculture which included increased physical activity, improved mental health, opportunities for community development through education and job skills training, and most importantly enhanced community connections. As one resident stated, “we share ideas, we share tools, vegetables, the foods, even the knowledge and culture through our garden”

With this in mind it is important to view community-supported agriculture as a tool that can provide broader community involvement, which is the first step to making larger positive changes in a locality.

Legislatively, there are many several progressive solutions that local governments need to be implementing to address agricultural policy. Providing stronger government support for family owned small businesses and reducing support for industrial agriculture, mitigating land loss and erosion through community led conservation programs, encouraging less fuel and pesticide-intensive farming practices and finding ways to promote educational information to the general public are all things that should be highly considered at this point. It’s about time we get to  know our roots.

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  1. Roosevelt Institute: Ag Nation, Solutions for Rural America, 2011
  2. ATTRA: Community Supported Agriculture, Katherine Adam, 2002
  3. Growing Urban Health: Community Gardening in South-East Toronto, Health Promotion International, 2010

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