We often get asked why we run a CSA, or even more commonly, what is a CSA? So at the start of our new season, we thought we'd go into it a bit more detail about why we chose a CSA model and .why a CSA model makes the most sense for the long term sustainability of local agriculture.
The current state of our food system is geared toward industrial commodity production. Each farm producing the same thing on a large scale that is then funnelled through a small number of processing companies, before ending up on the supermarket shelf. The farmer makes very little money in this transaction, so it's now typical for farmers to receive only enough to cover the cost of production. Meanwhile the companies that break down and re-process the food are making a fortune. The economic squeeze on the farmer leads to land degradation and the abuse of animals.
There's a number of reasons for this, but if we use an example of a farmer taking their animals to the market, we can see that once the animals are unloaded, they are basically at the whim of the buyers. And those buyers tend to be one of the 4 or 5 major food companies. I've watched as the same few companies buy every lot of lambs, each one bidding only once so they don't push up the price for the other. The farmer has no control and no reserve on the price they take. The market can fluctuate dramatically, causing uncertainty and stress. In this economic model, its all about more - more animals, means more money, and there is no other way for the farmer to increase the price they receive at the market other than to bring more animals.
Aside from being uneconomical for the farmer, our current food system pushes the quality of our food down to what is easiest to store and transport, rather than what is nutritious and delicious. In a society that is obsessed with the spectacle and the image, a carrot that looks like a carrot is better than a carrot that tastes like a carrot. Food buying and consuming has become a chore, something that we have to do to get through the day. But food is more than that, food connects us to our place, it connects us to each other.
A CSA is a community. It's a community of eaters and producers, it's people connected via the food that they share and consume together. As Tammi Jonai from Jonai farm says, "It's a from of solidarity, not just another transaction". When we raise an animal, we see it get born, we see it each day, we raise it, we transport it, we butcher it, we package it, we deliver it, and we eat it together; us, you, and every other member of the CSA. Although we may be in different houses, and in different towns, even though we might not know each other closely, and have different views on politics, we're sharing in this animal's life and death, we are connected through that meal, and that's what a CSA really does, it connects us.
If you're interested in signing up to our new season, head on over to the farm store now.