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In response to the Readers’ Hotline caller who had questions about paying a farmer upfront for unknown quantities of various vegetables throughout the season, I want to explain this completely different model of local food production.
As gas prices rise, food shipped in from huge industrial farms in California or Chile will become more and more expensive.
We need to return to the days when lots of food was raised locally by small farmers and kitchen gardens.
However, it is very hard for small, local farmers to support themselves when all the costs are upfront — seed, fertilizer, plowing — and the income is a few months later. Loans are hard to come by, and taxes on farmland are rising.
Community-supported agriculture is a model in which local people basically say, “I’m glad that you are growing food for us. I have faith that you will provide healthy, nutritious food all summer, and I will invest in you right now.”
This is a win-win for everyone, as the farmer can stay in business and investors can receive a variety of healthy foods all season.
It may be things you would never buy at the store, but I’m looking forward to learning about new vegetables and how to prepare them.
No, there is probably no way to calculate exactly what you are paying per pound for broccoli. It’s not for everyone. But it combines food shopping with investing in our community’s future.