Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Seacoast New Hampshire CSA

Over the past few years, we've converted our fridge and pantry to whole foods - only ingredients we can pronounce, with a focus on eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And while it has felt great to convert our fridge and pantry to these nutritious foods, something's been missing: we haven't been taking enough responsibility for knowing where our produce and meat come from.

Last week, we took a big step toward becoming more responsible for the food we eat - we joined three (!!) CSAs. For any of you fellow Seacoasters, here's the information (the summer CSA session starts in June, and I'm able to pick up all these CSA goods at one location in Portsmouth):

Produce: Heron Pond Farm from South Hampton, NH. Both Taras and I were happy with their farming standards - while they are not 100% organic, their focus is on organic practices with adjustments made for a minority of their crops. Their standards are practical and make sense to Taras and I.

Meat: New Roots Farm from Newmarket, NH. Meat has been at the top of my mind for a while now. I know that just because we pick up something organic from Trader Joe's, that doesn't mean much for how the meat was raised or butchered (buzz words like "organic" and "pasture raised" get tricky when it comes to meat and poultry - more on that here). So I'm thrilled about this meat CSA - they raise 100% grass-fed and finished beef and lamb, as well as pasture-raised pork and poultry (and all their meats are processed humanely in western Massachusetts). You can read more about their practices here.

Fish: New Hampshire Community Seafood from Portsmouth, NH. Admittedly, seafood is the area where I've done the least amount of research in terms of understanding sustainable practices. Even though I'm not super educated in this area, after reading through their website, I'm happy to support the work they're doing. I love that this is a fisherman's coop that has come together to keep NH's fish in our own state.

When it comes to eating local food that is ethically produced, the biggest concern is always the cost. We did the math to make sure we'd be able to stay within our weekly food budget. Our weekly grocery budget is $100. The cost of all three of these CSAs by week works out to be $53.75/week ($16.25 for produce; $25 for meat; $12.50 for seafood - we chose the half share for both produce and seafood). After the CSA costs, we are still left with almost half of our weekly budget to buy all the other necessities from the grocery store. We also know that, for us, the weekly cost of the meat CSA will end up being less than $25/week in the long run - we eat probably a pound of meat between the two of us each week but we'll be getting a lot more than that with the CSA, which means a lot of meat will go into the freezer to get us through the winter!

I hope this is helpful to any locals who are interested in supporting the local agriculture industry. And for those non-locals, a quick google search will help you find CSAs in your area.

PS - I highly recommend reading Eating Animals. This book is eye opening to the realities of the meat industry. I probably have another post in me yet about this topic, because the book had such a significant impact on me. In the meantime, here is a great post that outlines some important take-aways from the book.

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