We are getting our second week’s worth of vegetables from a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – farm today. It’s not too far from our home on the urban edge of suburbia, and the vegetables are excellent. While economic and social conditions may not be great for many sectors of the economy, local agriculture and CSAs are set to thrive.
The rise in transportation costs is the biggest economic factor that will help local agriculture. We are used to having food shipped from megafarms across the country – or across the world. A case in point – apple juice from a major juice company contains apples from Europe and both North and South America.
This sort of farming made sense when transportation costs were low. But now that transportation costs continue to rise, it will become more and more expensive to import food. Local farms will find themselves suddenly much more competitive simply because there are much lower transportation costs.
The social factor is the increased awareness about infection vectors. The recent contamination of meat, spinach, lettuce, and tomatoes has alerted us to the problems of large, central processing. When all the food passes through one area, it is easy for all the food to get contaminated. The decentralized nature of local farms means that any contamination would be contained and much smaller in scope.
There are CSAs, farmer’s markets, and all sorts of local food across the USA. We found our CSA through Local Harvest.
Last night, my wife was eating salad she had bought from a store. As we went over our schedule for the next few days, I mentioned that our CSA pickup was the next day. She pushed the half-eaten bowl of storebought salad away.
“Finally,” she said, “real salad again.”