I had the pleasure of meeting a very nice woman this weekend who works for Sauvie Island Organics, an organization who supplies a good number of restaurants with local, sustainable and organic produce. Though meeting her was truly a pleasure, the more exciting (and informative part) was they also supply the Portland Metro area with CSA deliveries (joy!). For those of you not familiar with the acronym CSA, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. This is sort of a brilliant move for local farmers, as a member of a CSA you buy a share of their crop which guarantees an income for the farm and you get a weekly delivery of produce that is grown in your own big back yard (not literally but you get the idea).
There are a number of national organizations that offer organics deliveries including Organics to You. Organics to You was the first organization offering CSA delivery that I had ever heard of and I got really excited about the idea for a number of reasons. You know the food you are getting is organic. You never really know what you are going to get each delivery so you are forced to try new things which is always a great learning experience. And even if your first culinary experience with new products may not be quite as stellar as planned or turned out to be the most awful thing in the world it is still an exciting new experience. The deliveries would also force you (if your waste guilt is anything like mine) to make sure everything is eaten, thus resulting in more plant ingestion. Plus, who doesn't love getting packages!
Like everything I do, I researched CSA deliveries to death before I committed to one organization. I found the same thing in almost all large CSA organizations, they offer a great variety of produce to their consumers, so much so that sometimes it travels a long way to get to doorsteps. Here is where I got a little disappointed, most of the fruit from the Organics to You CSA came from as far as New Zealand. A lot of it still came from California, which is really quite close. But if I am going to invest in a season long produce delivery system, I want to make sure it is as fresh a possible and did not commute thousands of miles to land on my dinner table every night.
You can imagine my excitement in learning about the Sauvie Island Organics. The farm is literally less than 30 miles from my house. Yes its true my delivery box will not include mangos or kiwis or probably even oranges. None of these things grow in Oregon, but we do have some pretty stellar fruit of our own, apples and pears for starters, and Oregon is known for berries. In the end it does mean I will be eating less exotic fruits, but people have been living quite successfully for thousands of years in oregon without fruits like Tangelos. I feel pretty okay walking to the farmers market once a week to get the fruits I am craving knowing they didn't need a passport to get there.
If you live in the greater Portland area check out Sauvie Island Organics. Live further away? Fear not, there is a National City CSA web site that can be found here. And if they don't have what you are looking for, then do some leg work. Talk to some local farmers, talk to your local city government about setting up a community garden, or plant a garden yourself!