So among other things, one of the ways we are "acting locally" is by organizing and participating in a CSA. A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) allows a group of people to buy shares in a local farm. You pay for your produce in advance and the farmer knows how much to plant and that what they plant is already sold. Also, since it is local, you save the cost of the extra fuel used to transport your produce to the supermarket.
The KosherCook and I and a small group of other people we know from our synagogue spent the better part of March frantically marketing this project to our congregation and the neighboring community in order to sign up enough people to meet our farmer's minimum. We started really late to make this happen for this summer, but we got the buzz going and it's happening!
Every Monday our farmer delivers boxes of freshly picked organic vegetables and fruit (and free-range eggs for those who paid extra) to our synagogue. We don't really know what is going to be in the box until Sunday night - sometimes not until Monday - so it's kind of like getting a present each week (even though you paid for it in advance). The people participating are really excited and there is a lot of recipe swapping and posting on our synagogue listserv.
The other really interesting aspect of this project is that our CSA is a member of Hazon's Tuv Ha'Aretz program, so all of the usual issues of sustainable living are also examined from a Jewish perspective.
From the Hazon.org website:
What makes Tuv Ha'Aretz different is that it is a Jewishly-rooted CSA. Tuv Ha’Aretz provides a platform for synagogues and JCCs to offer outstanding educational programs within and outside of the CSA community. Tuv Ha'Aretz provides members with a unique opportunity to engage in Jewishly-focused education and have access to a great Jewish community. The intersection of Judaism and contemporary food issues provides an exciting opportunity for learning and growth. Through Tuv Ha'Aretz members can expand their understanding of what it means for food to be kosher – food that is not only “fit” for us, but “fit” for the Earth.This week we received lettuce, scallions, radishes, asparagus, rosemary, rhubarb and strawberries. We are actually splitting our share with my in-laws as one share is intended to be a week's worth of produce for a family of four. I knew there would be a little more cleaning involved since these are organic vegetables (more bugs) and freshly picked and delivered (actual soil on them). But we have received a very delicious head of lettuce each week that is taking me a ridiculously long time to clean. Perhaps I'm becoming "crazy frum" with the washing, but frankly, kosher or not - I just don't want to eat bugs.
Standing in front of the sink gazing into the seemingly infinite crinkly crevices of a head of lettuce and running water for 2 hours (I know - crazy!) does give a person a lot of time to think, though. I thought about the ladybug that crawled out as I first started washing - I sent her outside but worried that she might have gotten stuck on her back and never got up. I thought about how when I unwrapped the lettuce it looked exactly like a storybook lettuce and I could totally understand why Peter Rabbit would risk life and limb in Mr. McGregor's garden for one of these. I didn't say they were deep thoughts. Just thoughts.
The added bonus in all this is that the KosherCop is totally in love with the idea of "farm-fresh" vegetables and has dubbed himself "the boy who tries new foods". If he balks at eating any vegetables now, we just have to tell him they are from the farm and he gobbles them up.