Barefoot by the Sea: Local vs Organic and to CSA or not CSA?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Local vs Organic and to CSA or not CSA?

This is a question for you the readers out there.  Do you focus on organic or local food?  Which is more important to you? Since I'm in New Hampshire, it's not possibly for me to buy locally organic items year round and as the Spring approaches, I contemplate purchasing local or organic.  For me, local wins most of the time.  I am lucky to have a year round CSA that bi-weekly and tend to purchase my produce, eggs and occasional meat or chicken there.  Therefore, we try to eat seasonally as well, which is fine with me - think about it, have you ever really had a good tomato in the Winter?  I've had fleshy, white-ish tomatoes that most certainly do not scream "Summer".  I did can salsa last Summer - but not enough, still it was nice to crack open a jar on Superbowl Sunday that was fresh and good.   Overall, I feel better about purchasing local produce within reason - I'm careful to get to know the farmers I buy from and their practices.  I also am careful to avoid the dirty dozen products and whenever possible opt for local and organic.  As a reminder, the "dirty dozen" include a list of the foods that are more likely to have the most pesticide residue and therefore, it's more important to buy organic when you can.  They include: Apples, Celery, Strawberries, Peaches, Spinach, Imported Nectarines, Imported Grapes, Sweet  Bell Peppers, Potatoes, Domestic Blueberries, Lettuce and Kale/Collard Greens.  Luckily, there is also a list of "Clean Fifteen", a group of food that is typically lower can check out that list here.
Another question....will you subscribe to a CSA this year?  We subscribed to a CSA (for those of you not familiar with the term, read more here) for three years and enjoyed the variety of produce.  Still, I found that I was going to the Farmer's Market to pick up my items and purchasing more there.  In addition, I found that the greens were fifthly, requiring a lot of time after washing and patting dry.  I did enjoy it though and have fond memories of watching my then FOUR year old bite into a fresh piece of kale.  My old blog, Simplistic Girl talked all about my experience with the CSA.  I have to admit, I just reread some of my old posts and it looks very tempting.  However, our favorite farm no longer offers a CSA.  So, I tend to make weekly trips to the Farmer's Market (we have two that run here in the Summer) or make trips to support our local farms.  

I know this - I am wayyyyy more concerned about food and health than ever.  I want to ensure I am giving my children the best options possible when it comes to the food they consume.  It's tough to navigate it but I'm getting better.  There is so much information out there, it can literally make your head spin.  Luckily, there are a lot of excellent resources that help make navigation a little easier.  I've also started listening to Simple Mom's podcasts which provide more thoughtful information.  I also love to test new recipes found at Bakeaholic Mama,  100 Days of Real Food and Weelicious!

Let me know what your thoughts are and how you navigate through the plethora of information out there!  It's tough raising little ones these days!


  1. I would love to try and find a CSA near by. In the winter I'm terrible I stop watching what I buy. I actually talked about California Berries in my post today. I HATE buying fruit from across the country. But we would never eat fruit if I didn't living in NH! We plant a decent size garden every year and what I can't grow we always buy locally in the spring and summer.

    1. I would say definitely do pick your own this summer. NH has amazing berries available, and you can freeze them whole with just a quick wash. Although, we still buy bananas every week...having a 3 and 1 year old seems to make that a necessity :-)

  2. Great post, and great thoughts! We are in Maine, and have a farmers' market year round. I think you would be surprised what we can produce in this state. In the winter it is obviously a lot of root veggies, but there are also fermented foods and other canned goods, plus a whole lot of breads/pies/cookies available.

    As far as local vs organic goes, well, I choose local 99% of the time. It really helps to know the farmer that you are buying from. Just because they are not certified organic, doesn't mean that they don't use organic practices. More often than not, small farms do use organic practices, practice permaculture instead of monoculture which is better for the soil and environment in general. Plus, do you really trust the USDA to certify anything organic? They did just buy all of that extra pink slime the fast food restaurants didn't want to FEED TO OUR CHILDREN!

    And CSA's, I have had a summer CSA for the past 5 years, but this year we are going without, I am trying to garden more on my own. I think that is the natural progression of CSA share holders. I will, however, continue with my winter pantry CSA. I don't have a root cellar, and even if I did, I wouldn't know how to store root veggies in it, so I will leave that to the professionals. Not to mention I don't think I could grow enough potatoes for my family on my little plot of land to make it through the winter :-)

    I am sure you wanted a very long addendum to your post, so here it is :-)

  3. You inspire to buy organic and locally! I do buy organic, but have never been to a farmers market! I need to do some research and find one near us! Thank you!

  4. I know you've gotten into the canning thing over the last couple of years-- think about canning fresh tomatoes in August. Many farm stands (our family's included) will take orders for "canners" in August, which basically means that they'll set aside a box of tomatoes for you to pick up at a discounted rate. They are usually seconds because they are too ripe to sell, have blemishes or are overstock during a busy season. Canning them is not hard- you can do it! :) If you can put up salsa, you can put up tomatoes, veggie soups and stocks to last you all winter. The go-to book for me is still the Ball guide to canning (find this everywhere). And Oh-- You can often find local peaches at a "seconds" discount as well. While you can put them in jars, they're also crazy easy to freeze. Smoothies central all winter long! (Check out Foxes Ridge Farm and Kelly Orchards, both in Acton, Maine). Also, stop and say this weekend for opening weekend and May Day Festival at the Kennebunk Farmers Market! Very kid-friendly environment, including parade and local foodies and farmers.


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