Ah yes, that beautiful springtime Boston weather--when it's 90 degrees and sunny one day, yet 50 degrees and rainy the next. But it is at least spring, when April showers bring May farmers' markets (or I think that's the saying).
That's right, farmers' markets are right around the corner! And as we keep hearing about the salmonella scares in our food supply--sometimes ones that exist for years before the public finally learns about them, it's become increasingly apparent that knowing exactly where our food comes from is imperative to our well being. Worse, recent reports suggest that the H1N1 ("swine") flu may have derived from U.S. factory pig farms in the late 1990s; which if you have read Michael Pollan's, Omnivore's Dilemma, you know those are not fun places to be (see Chapter 11: The Animals).
But thankfully, and increasingly, farmers' markets (as great as they are) are not the only means to finding local, fresh, and clean produce. Behold the concept of CSA (Community-supported Agriculture). Before the season begins (read: now), consumers sign up to receive a "share" of the produce that is grown. Often times this will mean a box of produce that you can pick up each week and bring home. As this season progresses, different items will comprise your share. For example, in my CSA, we're expecting lettuce and tomatoes in June among other things, and onions and potatoes in October.
I don't want to give a full defense for CSA here--it would take too long and become boring, but I do want to point out a couple highlights: 1) You know where your food is coming from; 2) Your food will be fresh and clean (albeit not of dirt); 3) You will support your local economy; 4) Quite possibly meet a few farmers; 5) Stop spending so much time (and money) in supermarkets. Of course, there's one small downside, but it seems minor to all the benefits in comparison.
So if you want to sign up, I suggest you move quickly as the growing season approaches. Stillman's Farm, Allendale Farm, and Silverbrook Farms are all options I've heard of several times--but just do a quick search and you'll be able to find many more.
And if you aren't quite sold on this whole local, sustainable thing, but want to learn more, BU is hosting quite a number of events and talks this Friday and Saturday. If you can't make that, I suggest at least picking up a copy of King Corn--it's well worth the hour and a half.
And lastly if all of this has been old news, let us know your favorite farmers' markets in the Boston area, and/or the CSA you belong to. And maybe more importantly, your strategy for dealing with that last bit of kale :)