by Libby Williams, Plate South blogger
Reprinted with permission
For the month of April, I signed up to participate in the Eat Local Challenge. Run by the folks over at Lowcountry Local First, this challenge was designed to as a month long initiative to eat locally-produced food. For me, this was a no brainer. It accomplishes MANY of my goals in life like A) talking with farmers in the area; B) eating all the local foods; and C) eating at as many local restaurants as I can lay my paws on through the month of April. Pretty much all of my life goals in one challenge.
As I started getting closer to this challenge, my first and most obvious choice of eating all things local was to share one of my favorite parts of local food culture – the farmers and food shares around the area. It is absolutely imperative to me that I have a daily dose of farm in every meal I make (I swear on my daily smoothie, this is not an exaggeration…I eat local eggs with whatever green I can sauté up for breakfast each day). And since I actually eat at home more than this blog makes it look like I do, I decided that featuring my weekly CSA farm share from Compost in my Shoe is a win for me. And that’s really what this blog is about. Me. Winning.
If you are unfamiliar with Farm Shares (aka CSAs – Community Supported Agriculture), let me enlighten you to the many benefits of this. Basically it’s farmers that are farming directly for you and delivering you the freshest product you can get. According to statistics, our food travels an average 1,500 miles before it reaches our plates.
I don’t even see close relatives that live far away. And while agribusiness is SC’s largest industry, over 90% of our food is still imported. I just can’t even with those numbers. If we can tip those scales – even a little bit – then we have done a better job at not only supporting local farmers and our local economy, but helping the environment as well. Bonus points for seeking out organic farmers!
So all of this leads me to tell you, supporting farmers is a no brainer in the efforts of eating local.
As for me, I get my farmshare from my local farmer, Jim Martin of Compost in my Shoe. If you aren’t familiar with Jim….well take a seat, because I have got a lot to say.
I have known Jim for about 10 years or so. I have watched him farm for most of that time – first in his backyard, then on to the fields and pastures of our lovely barrier islands. After a few moves, Jim is now settled into a lovely farm out on Johns Island where he grows and cultivates some of the most beautiful organic produce you will ever see. I have spent the past years photographing his process, and I can tell you why his produce is so good: it’s because he cares for it meticulously. They plant without heavy machinery, harvest by hand, and wash (actually, more like bathe. Those lucky plants get bathed!) every piece of produce that comes out of his farm. Everything is cultivated by organic methods – which is not only better for you…it’s better for the whole planet, people! It’s an entire process that yields the most tender and delicious vegetables I have ever tasted. This isn’t an exaggeration. Even my 14 year old knows the difference between his vegetables and everything else.
Compost in my Shoe’s shares runs year round. That means year-round veggies delivered straight to your door (or a pick up location if you should choose). Other benefits include the ability to put your farm share on hold for vacations and times when it might make sense to do so in your household. You can choose whatever size suits your family best – from Full Share (1-2 people) or Deluxe Share (3-4 people) are the options within each level of Grand Grocer, Budding Chef or Giddy Gourmet tiers of membership. They also offer a la carte items that can be added weekly as well as honey, flowers and chocolate for those of you who really want to be impressed.
With each share, Jim places a little sheet in your box to tell you what you have in your box this week. And with it, he includes a recipe or two for inspiration (just in case you aren’t as passionate as I am about kale chips or kale, cranberry and pecan salad each week). Today’s share came to me as inspired as any. I usually assess what we have and then start unwrapping items in the freezer to accompany my fresh veggies for the week. I start with what spoils quickest, like lettuce and herbs, and work my way to the end of the list with things like onions, carrots and cabbages that seem to keep a little longer. Last night we had steak fajitas with spicy coleslaw from our cabbage that has kept well for the past week. Tomorrow we are eating homemade barbecue with the rest of the slaw and some sweet potatoes on the side.
Shares start at $29 a week and go up from there. Each share has a hefty array of vegetables and culinary herbs along with offerings of chocolates and the occasional arrangement each week – depending on your level of participation. And the veggies are all fairly familiar so you aren’t pulling out mystery veggies or something you’ve never heard of. It’s all stuff you can use.
I always feel good about my farm share with Compost in my Shoe. It’s the best way for me to shift some of our weekly household spending to something good, local and healthy! WINNING!