Hello CSA Community,
Somewhere around the end of last tomato season, my partner and I had a thoughtful discussion about our participation in a sustainable agriculture system. Since true sustainability extends beyond the fields, to the people, places, and biological systems that need to remain productive and diverse, we determined that our approach to sustainability should also extend beyond the farm and begin to permeate our lifestyle. We ditched the paper take-away coffee cups, turned an old flower-patterned curtain into cloth napkins, packed metal forks and spoons in our school lunches, and committed to (mostly) buying local produce only when it is in season. I say “mostly” because occasionally, a last minute trip to the local grocer will turn up bananas grown in Peru or onions from Mexico. So while steps have been made to encourage a more earth-friendly lifestyle, we are by no means perfect.
What does it look like to eat locally and seasonally in an age of globalization and instant gratification? Well, I can tell you that much to my dismay, it does not look like a homemade tomato sandwich in February, or like peaches in December. Actually, the essence of seasonal eating is expressed in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and at farmer’s markets. As you may have noticed from your CSA experience, each box that you receive offers an assortment of produce that changes with the season. Some months your box is beaming with the vibrant colors of heirloom tomatoes, beets, and radishes, and in other months your box is extremely green and leafy. The story at the farmer’s market is the same. Though globalization, consumer demands, and low cost international production have enabled tomatoes to be available year-round, the truth is that in California tomatoes are a summer crop and should be eaten in the summer. For an ardent tomato lover like myself, the adjustment to a tomato-less life over this past winter was a challenge. At times, I wanted nothing more than to munch on a handful of Trader Joe’s less flavorful cherry tomatoes, just to feel that pop, but I was halted by my conscious and a tiny declaration with an uncanny resemblance to my partner’s voice, reminding me that “there is a time and place for every crop, and tomato’s time is not until the summer”.