GIVEAWAY! Win a Copy of Green for Life on Earth Day
First off, I have a giveaway today! Leave a comment and I will randomly (from help from a website) pick a winner for a signed and personalized copy of Gill Deacon’s bestselling book Green For Life. Gill’s book is an incredible primer and gives a thoughtful perspective on how we can all do our part to live a little greener. It’s definitely a must-have in a every family’s library.
For me, being green started with baby steps. I started buying organic products because I was fearful for my family’s health. Then came recycling and diverting my garbage, buying things with less packaging, avoiding parabens and really reading the ingredients of the products we use in the house and cleaning green. I started to see being green as more than just worrying about whether my kids drink organic milk. I try not to buy too much plastic not just because it has toxins that are dangerous to my kids but because the production of plastic is bad for the environment. I want to a send a message that I care how animals are raised, how farmland is treated and what kind of planet my grandkids will live on.
My caveat here is that I am full of contradictions; I drive a massive SUV and I don’t buy recycled toilet paper because as much as I am a granola, I am also a princess. Do you know the book Paperbag Princess, well my friends call me the Granola Princess. (Though on the toilet paper issue Gill has me convinced to try it because if you don’t buy recycled paper products, what is the point of recycling all that paper?)
As a foodie and a feminist I consider it my responsibility to make green choices. One of the easiest places for me to make changes is in my family’s diet. We have always bought organic (especially meat, dairy and the Dirty Dozen) and I am choosing local products as much as I can. Recently, I had an opportunity to meet some farmers at a Slow Food event I was writing about. I was struck by their enthusiasm for their products and their incredible tenacity to live the way they do just to provide my spoiled family with food.
I was especially bowled over when a farmer, who sells some of the most sought-after organic produce at the farmers market told me that she cleans houses in the winter just to stay afloat. I was shocked, this is someone whose produce is expensive, I can easily spend $40 at her table on tomatoes and salad greens in the summer and she doesn’t make enough money to live from the proceeds of the farm. What can we do?
CSAs are what we can do. CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. At the beginning of the season, (like now) you give a farmer a pre-determined fee and in exchange you get a box (or basket or bag) of produce from the farm weekly (or on whatever schedule you decide). The box is delivered to a location in your neighbourhood or directly to your house. The produce is incredibly fresh -- often picked that morning and is at peak season. Some farms pick the contents of the box depending on what they have and some fill the box halfway up and you can choose the rest. Some CSAs also include eggs (fresh eggs, an amazing treat!) meat, preserves or fresh flowers. You just have to pick the CSA that fits your family the best.
So, why is a CSA so great for farmers? It is very helpful for farmers to have cash upfront of the growing season. That is when the major expenses occur. They also get to have a dependable stream of customers.
Why is it great for me? The freshness is an obvious plus, most CSAs provide organic or close-to-organic products. You are supporting the local economy and local farmers. And your kids will learn about eating in season and that food does not grow on supermarket shelves. Many CSAs have farm days where you go out and have fun on the farm, if they don’t have a public day there is usually an open-door policy for CSA members.
Are there any downsides? Well, there is an inherent risk in being part of a CSA, just like the famer you are dependent on weather and other unpredictable variables for your produce, so if disease wipes out the tomato crop then you won’t be getting any tomatoes. And you may not love everything you get in the box, some vegetables may be things you have never seen before and others may just not be to your liking (green peppers ugh). But if your boundaries are pushed just a little that is a good thing (except when it comes to green peppers).
How do you find a CSA? Go to a farmer’s market and ask the farmers, many of them already have a CSA set up; search for CSA and your town on the Internet, call farms that are within 100km of where you live; ask your granola buddies or at the store that sells organics. You may be surprised how many CSAs are around. Before you hand over the money ask questions; here is a good list to start from.
So that was my community message. Now back to the giveaway. Two commenters will get a free copy of the bestseller Green for Life signed by Gill Deacon (who I like to call the Queen of Green, but she is so much more than that).Tell me what your family is doing to recognize Earth Day beyond wearing a green T-shirt.
For more on Earth Day, check out this piece on how you can save the world's beautiful spaces, one tiny thing at a time.
Rules: Contest ends April 22, 2010 11:59 p.m. Residents of U.S. and Canada only . Leave a separate comment per entry and a valid email address. Winner is chosen at random and will be notified of their prize.
WINNERS: Lynn and Linda Goodwin won copies of Green For Life in a random draw. Thanks for reading and being part of Embrace the Chaos!