Fresh From the Farm

Today I picked up my first box of produce from Los Poblanos Organic Farms in Albuquerque. My two-week supply contains a pound of asparagus, 6 apples, 4 oranges, garlic, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, onion, 3 kiwis, chard and a package of ‘first of season’ strawberries. I could not believe how fresh everything was! The spinach was vibrant and clean and the red chard was crisp and straight. It was a joy to the eye, as well as to the palate.
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The warehouse provides boxes to transport the produce; however, I used my recycled cloth conference bags. From an aesthetics point of view, I envied another shopper who placed her fruits and vegetables in a large round shopping basket hung jauntily over her arm. It was such a relief not to deal with all of the plastic bags my normal shopping trip entails. Since the food is pre-paid, I simply picked up each item from its cooler on tables around the room and put it in my cloth bag. Only the greens needed to be bagged.

Participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is something I ruminated about for almost a year. In CSA the consumer joins with others by signing up for a ‘share’ of the produce – giving some stability to the farmer. Los Poblanos currently has about 850 shareholders. I opted for a box every other week, which I will pick up from a convenient distribution point. The ‘dividend’ from my shares will be fresh organic food.

I kept making excuses for not signing up. Could I chow down on a box full of produce every two weeks? What happens when I am out of town?. What if my box contained something I didn’t like? My questions remained; however, I decided to stop procrastinating and take the plunge – even though I am soon to head out of town.

Purchasing my shares was a snap. On the Los Poblanos website I indicated whether I wanted to weekly or every other week pickups, the number of weeks I wanted to purchase, selected a convenient site to obtain my produce and entered my credit card on their secure site. Home delivery is also available for a nominal charge.

Since I am leaving for New Orleans on Sunday, this week is a test of my ability to make sure I use the items I brought home. My sister and brother-in-law will be the recipients of left-over asparagus, half a cabbage and some spinach.

Okay, how can I use a bunch of chard in less than a week? I plan to enjoy Chipolte Cheddar Chard, Garlic Creamed Chard and Chard Frittata. A Google search provided me with information on how to freeze left-over chard leaves.

A recent article, “My Search for the Perfect Apple” in Time Magazine discussed the pros and cons of buying local versus organic produce. The author, who lives in New York, favored buying locally, even it wasn’t organic. I didn’t have to make that choice – my local farmer grows his produce without use of pesticides. He is passionate about sustainable community agriculture, the significance of environmentally friendly farming and the importance of consumers demanding organic produce.

Jane Goodall, of chimpanzee fame, became interested in the relationship between agricultural methods and health through observing the impact of farming methods on the chimpanzees she had been studying since 1960. She watched trees cut down, mountain slopes erode and lakes depleted through over-fishing. Both chimpanzees and farmers suffered.

In her book, Harvest for Hope, Goodall asserts, “…we are at a critical point in human history…And one way in which we can truly make a difference is to think about what we eat. Each decision we make – what we choose to buy, choose to eat, will have an impact on the environment.”

Not only am I looking forward to enjoying fruits and vegetables that exude freshness, I am supporting local agriculture and reducing my environmental footprint.

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