Organic vs. “organic”

Beth, a member of the Sparta CSA group, sent me an e-mail today with a link to a pretty disturbing story. The Washington Post details, at great length, how the surging demand for organic food in America has been accompanied by a weakening of federal standards over the use of the “organic” label.

The result? Synthetic additives in 90% of all organic baby formula, additives that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had decided just three years ago violated federal standards. Or how about wood starch in grated organic cheese? Yum.  Want more? Dean Foods, the largest organic food brand in the U.S. and the business behind Horizon organic milk, is undercutting its own brand with a new line of “natural” products.

Beth said in the note that she hopes USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will get things under control. I hope so too. But while we wait for Washington to act, there is something that every consumer can do: Get to know a certified organic farm and its farmer, and become an active participant in the integrity of your organic food by joining a CSA.

To those of you who already have, my thanks.

Six Degrees Of Separation, CSA-Style

The C in CSA stands for community, and there was a lot of it at the second Verona distribution today. As we unloaded Leonard’s truck, and sorted and weighed and bagged, we discovered many, many connections between the members of our organic farm community. To wit:

  • Adrienne, who was our lead volunteer today, is good friends with a New Jersey vintner that I interviewed for a story last week;
  • Adrienne’s husband runs the library where Meg’s mother works;
  • Meg’s son and Amy’s daughter went all through elementary, middle and high school together, and their younger children are now together in school;
  • Amy’s son plays the tuba in the high school band with my nephew;
  • My dad and Amy’s dad were good friends at Lafayette College; and
  • Adrian, another new member, bought the house next door to Meg’s parents many years ago and his daughters played with Meg’s children when they were little.

I have known Meg for years, and I admit to having cajoled her and her family to join the CSA this year. But I never knew that there were any connections between her and the people I met in our new member meetings. And, amazingly, none of them knew that the other was planning on joining Upper Meadows Farm’s CSA until they all showed up in the parking lot.

CSA Share Sales Close June 17

HourglassIOur first CSA distribution for 2009 is history and my thanks to all of you who made it happen. But if you’re still thinking about getting super-fresh, local, organic produce by joining the Upper Meadows Farms community-supported agriculture program, I need to let you know that time is running out: We will stop selling shares on June 17.

The shares this year are $595 for a family, $425 for a half (which is the family share but only every other week) and $425 for the individual (smaller share, every week). If you want to understand what kind of value that is every week, read Megan’s post that breaks down the price of the CSA into its cost per meal.

You can join any one of our locations: Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, and in New Jersey in Verona, Sparta and Flanders at Ashley Farms, as well as on the farm itself. We distribute on the farm on Thursday evenings from 4 to 7 and The Hell’s Kitchen distribution takes place Saturday morning at 9:30. On Sundays, we’re in Verona (Essex County) from 12:30 to 1:3o p.m. and then in Sparta from 2:30 to 3:30. As a member of the CSA, you do need to volunteer for 4 hours, but that can be any time between June and the end of October, when our distributions end, and it can be as easy as helping out at the distribution site.

If you think joining the Upper Meadows Farm CSA is right for you, your next steps are:

1. Read this agreement
2. Print and sign this agreement
3. Mail the signed agreement with the payment for the share type you want to Upper Meadows Farm, 16 Pollara Lane, Montague, NJ 07827

You can also pay via PayPal from our main Web site.

The June 17 deadline is coming up fast. So if you want to avoid the supermarket veggie blues, I urge you to get your registration in.

Help Spread The Word About Upper Meadows Farm

j0438763If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already signed up to be a member of Upper Meadows Farm’s community-supported agriculture program. But if you think there are others who might like to join you in this CSA adventure, you should know that the time is growing short.

Very soon, we will be closing subscriptions for this year’s CSA shares. So if you have a friend who you think should hear about Upper Meadows and our organic food, hand them a copy of our brochure, which you can download here. If you know of a place where people who love organic food hang out in your community, tack up a copy of our flier, which emphasizes the value in our organic food.

For us, getting a full complement of CSA members means we can maximize our delivery runs to you and be efficient in our food miles. For you, being part of a fully booked CSA means you get to share community and cooking ideas with the widest group of people possible. So if you have a minute, spread the word.

A secret weapon called Sorrel

A secret weapon called sorrel
Sorrel, a plain-looking green, adds lemony tartness and complexity with almost no effort. Several recipes are provided, including one for cold sorrel soup and another for a tart with sorrel and goat cheese. National Public Radio

Hell’s Kitchen Member Meeting: April 7th @ 7 p.m.

There will be a member meeting for all of our new and returning members as well as those who are interested in our CSA this season on Tuesday April 7th @ 7 p.m. This is a great way to meet your grower and your CSA community. We will be meeting in the dining room at The Hartley House, located at 413 W. 46th Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues). We look forward to meeting you and answering any questions you may have for this season. nyc-market1
There will also be Maple Syrup available for purchase.

If you need any additional information please contact our NYC coordinator.

Green by Design – CSA, Organic Farming and Composting

Len filmed this piece with Green by Design in the summer of 2007. If you want to see some of the farm, and learn more about our CSA, it’s a good watch!

Vodpod videos no longer available.