CSA...and the fabric of society?

When was the last time you bought something from an actual person?  From a business run by someone in your community?  Or even from an employee who you recognize and who you knows you as one of the regulars?  I could talk all day about how fresh the just-picked vegetables are, not two days out of the ground.  Or how it's environmentally better to eat food from a small local farm than from corporate agribusiness more concerned with profit than with ecological sanity.  But consider the idea that meeting your day-to-day economic needs with businesses that are part of the local fabric of society -- having a person-to-person relationship with not only the seller but the producer of those goods -- may in fact be the most important result of buying your food from a local farm.

There's something we enjoy about the small business and the old-school main-street.  The "Towne Center" developments (Fairfax Corner, OneLoudoun, Reston Town Center, etc.) capitalize on this desire for small-town character, but in facade only.  While actual main-streets are comprised of local businesses creating a center of local culture, these faux main-streets are dominated by corporate business, islands lost in a sea of parking where even the ice cream shops and yoga studios are national chains.  Our politicians also capitalize on this appreciation of main-street businesses, with their talk of supporting "America's small business owners," but their policies have little to do with the main-street small businesses that enrich our day-to-day lives.

As much as people would like to live in this sort of world, when was the last time you interacted with a business like this?  Perhaps you stop at the independent coffee shop?  A local bookstore, or deli?  Maybe your mechanic owns the garage, or your hairdresser rents their chair.  But for your day-to-day goods, the go-to source is almost certain to be a national chain or box-store retailer--or Amazon.  These places are so convenient, and with such low prices, that it takes some real work to shop at a business owned by a real person.  We don't often have an easy opportunity to buy our day-to-day goods from the kinds of businesses we would like to see comprise the fabric of our communities, and even when we do, most of us rarely take advantage of it.

And so I encourage you to think about signing up for the CSA not because of the fantastic vegetables, or because of the great recipes every week, or because eating seasonally and sustainably increases your connection to the natural world...but because it enriches your life for something so critical as the daily food on your table to come from a local farm -- from local people.