CSA Sagas: Bugs and Dirt are Gross and Beautiful
Christmas of 2013, I received a book, entitled Foodist. Marketed as a science-based anti-diet book, it made my list. I wasn’t looking to lose weight, but to make some changes in my eating habits. I had started a seasonally-inspired walking food tour about a year prior to this, and it was clear that something was missing from my personal eating story.
By February 14th, 2014—because my love affair with food is the greatest and most complex of all—I was checking out a local farmer’s market. That March, I was picking up my first CSA* Share. 3+ years later and I visit my pickup site and the farmer’s market on a near-weekly basis. I’ve learned a lot about cooking and eating seasonally and locally in that time. It’s had a huge impact on my health, kept me connected to the art of cooking through resourcefulness and experimentation, and I get to feel smug around people who shop conventionally. I’ve also developed a new relationship nature.
I’m a native city girl who loves the outdoors, but bugs still give me the creeps. I’m a strong and independent woman, not unlike Beyonce, and I have no issue exterminating a nearby insect. But only after all the hair on my arms stands still, I’ve stopped gagging and the shivers that make me physically jump a bit get a grip. I know I’m not alone in this and imagine it’s why people only focus on the more glamorous problems of this life-change, like learning what the hell a kohlrabi is and how you have to live with the adjustment of limiting the number of bananas and avocados on your toast because they can’t grow in the northeast.
It’s easy to get caught up in the romanticism of “eating locally and thinking globally”. No one talks about just how hard it is to remove the dirt from all of the greens that now frequent your crisper, or how often you’ll be face-to-face with a full-eyed, tiny-bodied, winged or wormy creature who just wants a bite out of that delicious and nutritious kale. How many times will you nearly lose a whole head of cabbage from a jumping encounter with a hidden beast that winds up feasting on the remnants of your other CSA treasures that live in the garbage can you’ve tossed him in? Many.
But, as I recently shucked my corn with that eerie sense that I was not alone, I realized that I can’t be mad at these beings for having the same taste I do. Organic in-season produce tastes good and makes me feel even better. Seeing bugs and crunching on dirt just reminds me that my food comes from the earth and it’s not blasted with lab-made concoctions that will likely kill us all. Plus, at the end of the day, the heebie-jeebies do make for an interesting dance routine.
*CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It generally refers to a collective of farms that provide peek-season produce for local shareholders at regularly scheduled drop-offs.