Each week, we receive an email newsletter from our CSA, Terry’s Berries, letting us know where the week’s produce hails from. Washington State has less severe winters than the rest of the country, as does the west coast in general; so much of our produce is either grown in state or stored through the winter. Here’s an example of a note on the origins of our produce:
“Right now, cabbages and kales are coming from California because they got frozen in Washington. Other years we have been able to harvest beautiful cauliflower in January, cabbage and kales too. Apples and pears are from Washington state as well as potatoes, leeks, onions, shallots, parsnips, carrots, and some other root veggies.”
It is common for CSAs to source produce from other farms, but beware if the CSA you are considering regularly contains out-of-season produce. For instance, a CSA share for February in the Pacific Northwest should never contain green beans. They are so far out of season, the only place they are likely to come from is Mexico. And that kind of defeats the purpose of “local food.”
Summertime is the easiest time to sponsor local CSAs and local produce, because the harvest is so plentiful and vibrant. If you do buy from a CSA in the winter, simply take a moment to put on your thinking cap and ask yourself how likely it is that each item in your grab bag of food was either grown nearby or stored for these winter months. When in doubt, ask the CSA where the produce comes from. Transparency is key.
The most local food of all, of course, comes from your own backyard or container gardening, and this is the season to start planning for the planting season to come. Check out seed catalogues. Plan out your garden. Pre-order your seeds. Get prepped for doing veggie starts in the next month or so. And, in the meantime, keep eating locally and enjoying the produce of the season: root veggies, cabbages, and apples!