Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) was a new phrase to me a few months ago. Since then its been shaking things up in my world a bit. What is it? It's unsurprisingly pretty much as it sounds. Agriculture that is supported by the community. Local farmers grow food in your area that you buy into on a mostly weekly basis. You, the community, support the farmers by agreeing to buy a share of the food in advance which allows the farmers to plan how much to grow accordingly and means they know what their expected income for the season will be.
Why is this different to the normal way you buy food? Because it's local, seasonal, usually organic, fresh, real food thats why and it doesn't come in pointless plastic! It also means that because the farmers know how many people they are feeding in advance of actually growing the food they can reduce the amount of food they waste. According to this reasonably respectable looking website of all the food grown for human consumption every year roughly a third is wasted...A THIRD! That really isn't good enough, what the hell are we playing at?
Having learnt more about it I have now started volunteering 1 day a week at a Community Supported Agriculture urban farm in Vancouver. It's early days yet but I already feel much more connected with how my food is grown, when it is in season and the effort that goes into making it. On top of that the food tastes considerably better when it comes straight from the ground. Having lived in cities for the last 5 years I realised I could probably count on my hands the number of times I had taken food direct from where it was grown and eaten it straight away. The reality is the food we buy in the supermarket, even if it's local and organic, is at best several days away from being fresh. I want to see more of these programs so that we can move away from relying on a broken, wasteful system and support people within our community who can grow the food sustainably.
If, like me, you love a good infographic to explain things here you go (this is for the USA but is mostly relevant to everyone):
If you have been looking for a way to buy more sustainable food I highly recommend seeing if there is a CSA in operation near you, if not maybe set one up!
If you are based in the UK (where I'm from) you can see what CSA's are near you here: http://www.communitysupportedagriculture.org.uk/find-csa/
And if your in Vancouver (where I live) here is a list of CSA's in the area: http://www.urbanfarmers.ca/csas/