[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Down On The Farm
27 September 2011
[Food from CSA] I suspect that most of us don't spend enough time thinking about food. I don't mean indulging in a craving for ice-cream, or agonizing about getting a reservation at a hip restaurant, or writing articles with tips about things you can make with your duck confit. Rather I mean that we don't spend enough time really thinking about where our food comes from, how it is grown or raised, and the issues that surround the ease with which most of us can put a meal on the table.

For instance, unless you are very strict locavore, the changing seasons may not impact your menu planning very much. The combination of preservation technologies like canning and flash-freezing with the transportation network that criss-crosses the world like the lacings on some obscure Victorian undergarment means that we don't think twice about engaging in food practices that a scant five hundred years ago would be considered as de facto evidence of demonic power - as Faustus showed, and I've mentioned before. (In Scene XII if you'd like to look it up.)

If you shop at a farmer's market or a member of a CSA, as I am, you get a little more connection with the rhythms of the year. As a member of a CSA, there is a certain primitive satisfaction in being part of the harvest and tied to the growing season: greens early, then corn and tomatoes, then root vegetables. In fact, it's easy to get a little smug about all the great stuff that shows up in your share, and to feel a teensy bit superior about your connection to the land, and how aware you are of the provenance of your produce.

Still, though, there is a disconnect. This summer, that disconnect was brought home to me in stark detail. Irene came through and flooded much of the area where "my" farm is located. The result is that the winter share has been cancelled, we're not getting a lot of stuff we usually get, and we're getting fall stuff earlier and smaller than we might otherwise.

And you know what? I'm OK with that. I don't mean that I'm ignorant of or blithe about the damage - which was extensive. What I mean is that part of the bargain you make when you join a CSA is to take the good years with the bad. We've had some very good years indeed, and few bad ones, which speaks well of those running the farm.

In this day and age, the loss of my brusselsprouts is an annoyance. What Irene reminded me, though, is that not so long ago, this storm would have been more than an annoyance. Today, I go down and buy some other brusselsprouts shipped in from God-knows-where. Six hundred years ago, we might starve. Each week when I look at my share, a bit lean and scanty, I see, paradoxically, just how fortunate I am.

But then, I live in a big city, in a first world country, in a decent neighborhood and have a pretty good job. There are places today where a storm like this one, or a drought, might spell the doom of a family or a village. Furthermore, small farms in the US can also suffer drastically from the weather. If they must sell their goods at market, then if they have no goods to sell, they have no income. With the CSA, we're all in it together. We feel like a village, in some ways, and we're all stake-holders in "our" farm. When the winter share was cancelled, the farm offered to refund the cost of that share. Most people declined the refund.

Consider that for a moment: many people chose to pay money for food they will never see. When the storm hit the farm, we took it personally. We are emotionally invested in the success of the farm, and financial investment follows as naturally as spring follows winter.

It doesn't just take a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to feed a village.

Enjoy your dinner!

© 2011 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite