Greater Washington DC Area Local Foods Movement

 

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

 

The  Robyn Van En Center for CSA Resources  defines Community Supported Agriculture as a relationship of mutual support and commitment between local farmers and community members who pay the farmer an annual membership fee to cover the production costs of the farm.

The goals of CSA support a sustainable agriculture system which...

-provides farmers with direct outlets for farm products and ensures fair compensation

-encourages proper land stewardship by supporting farmers in transition toward low or no chemical outputs

-strengthens local economies by keeping food dollars in local communities
-directly links producers with consumers allowing people to have a personal connection with their food and the land on which it was produced
-makes nutritious, affordable, wholesome foods accessible and widely available to community members

 

Expanding Local Markets: New Rules Project

"As farmers experience ever declining incomes, many have turned to directly selling their products in local markets. Expanding local markets for agricultural products connects producers directly with consumers, increasing farmers' incomes by eliminating the middleperson. Food and dollars stay in town, transportation costs are minimized, and a connection between farmers and the community is fostered. Using farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and new state marketing and inspection programs, a new turn towards local markets has begun. As these markets expand, local food systems are being rebuilt to replace the centralized, corporate ones currently in place. Below are the rules and trends that are driving such a transition."  

This is just one of many sections on the New Rules Project.  Click Here to learn more about the New Rules Project.

 

Food Security

The benefits of caring about food security are numerous and cover spectra including our families, our communities, the environment, the world economy, and our health.

The methods currently used for growing and gathering food can affect the environment in many ways.For example, in some areas:

  • There is a loss of natural vegetation.
  • Fish stocks are running out
  • Some kinds of plants are being wiped out.
  • The quality and amount of land available for growing food is declining.
  • Topsoil - the living fertile part of the soil - is blowing and washing away.
  • Pesticides and bacteria (for example, E. Coli) are contaminating our water supplies and adding toxins to the air we breathe.
  • The traditional food sources of Aboriginal and Innu communities are being contaminated and many are even being wiped out.
  • The oil and gas used to transport food long distances contributes to poorer air quality.

To learn more about the benefits of food security,  click here to view "Thought about Food?" a workbook on Food Security & Influencing Policy.

 

Problems with US agribusiness and beef and poultry suppliers:

  1. Concentrates market share among a small handful of firms, removing price and discipline along with supply chain through vertical integration, resulting in uncompetitive markets that will ultimately hurt consumers and producers alike.
  2. Creates environmental disaster through excessive pesticide use, soil erosion, genetic engineering, monoculture, and concentration of animal waste.
  3. Eliminates the livelihoods of small producers in the US, using government subsidies, and monopoly power to price sustainable products out of the market.
  4. Endangers the public health of communities and consumers through food-borne diseases, chemical residues and the potentially harmful effects of irradiation.

  

Sustainable Farming

The word "sustain," from the Latin sustinere (sus-, from below and tenere, to hold), to keep in existence or maintain, implies long-term support or permanence.  As it pertains to agriculture, sustainable describes farminsg systems that are capable of maintaing their productivity and usefulness to society indefinitely.  Such systems...must be reosource-conserving, socialy supportive, commercially competitive, and environmentally sound." 

*[John Ikerd, as quoted by Richard Duesterhaus in "Sustainability's Promise,"  Journal of Soil and Water  Conservation (Jan - Feb 1990) 45 (1): p 4 NAL Call #56.8 J822].

"Sustainable agriculture" was addressed by Congress in the 1990 "Farm Bill" [Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (FACTA), Public Law 101-624, Title XVI, Subtitle A, SEction 1603 (Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1990)  NAL Call #KF1692.A31 1990].  Under that law, "the term sustainable agriculture means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specifi application that will, over the long term:

  • Satisfy human food and fiber needs
  • Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends
  • Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls.
  • Sustain the economic viability of farm operations
  • Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole."

Click Here to review more about the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and its policies and standards.

 

Additional Resources

The following is a list of various websites that cover topics about the Local Foods and Slow Food movements

Eating Fresh

Food Routes

Local Harvest

Natural Choice Directory

New American Dream

Slow Food USA

Stevens County Extension Community Engagement

Worldwatch Institute

 

 

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