LocalHarvest Newsletter, September 23, 2014

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

A couple of months back a journalist asked me why I feel so passionate about local food. She caught me at an odd moment and my mind went utterly blank. All I could think was, "Yikes. Do I feel passionately about this?" I don't remember what answer I gave her, but the question and my blankness stuck with me for days.

Weeks, actually. For a while I felt restless and guilty. "What am I doing promoting local food if I can't find my passion for it?" Eventually my husband helped me out of the hole I was digging; he pointed out that I have been supporting family farmers and eating locally so long that what once inspired a lot of emotion is now regular life.

This isn't just happening to me, of course. The culture is changing. Everywhere we look people are embracing the notion of 'local'. What was a new idea back in 2000 when we launched LocalHarvest is slowly becoming the standard. That is just what we wanted! Fortunately, a life that includes beautiful local foods yields a lot of delight and gratitude (e.g. our neighbor's early apples are fantastic this year!) even as passion for the idea of local food may fade with familiarity.

To me, all this means it is time to go deeper. Buying directly from farms is good. It gives farmers a higher return, making small scale farming more economically viable. Buying local is good too. Communities benefit when their members keep their money recirculating within the group. But we can do much more to protect the integrity and viability of small scale farming. First, we need to make sure that "real" food stays real. The more successful 'local' is within mainstream society, the more likely it is to be coopted by big business. "Farmer McDonald's CSA Egg McMuffins" - it sounds farfetched but it could happen, and in smaller ways already is. Second, our communities will be strengthened as more of us get involved in the complex issues facing agriculture. There are many issues to choose from, such as local zoning issues, federal farm regulations and the ongoing GMO fight, to name a few. For all the incredible momentum buying local has gained, making substantive, long lasting political and economic changes in the food system will require tenacious collective attention.

We can do it. My hunch is that our love for real food will be what prods us to make the effort and strengthens us along the way. Then we may both rediscover our passion for local food and put it to good use.

Until next time, take good care and eat well,

Erin Barnett

From the LH Store

Our farmers have been selling lots of fruit this month - passion fruit, longans, dates and persimmons. Each of these has a short, glorious season so if you like them, get them while you can!

Our Thanksgiving turkeys are already finding good homes with good food fans all across the country. LocalHarvest farmers raise heritage breeds, "regular" organic turkeys, and - for those who want both - organic, heritage birds. Ready to reserve yours? You can search for one locally, or have one shipped to you. Get yours now!

Comming Soon: Slow Money's National Gathering

Slow Money, a nonprofit that catalyzes the flow of capital to small and local food enterprises, hosts its 2014 gathering in Louisville, KY, November 10-12. This is an opportunity to contribute to a vital public conversation about how we can all work together to bring money back down to earth and support the new generation of small food entrepreneurs. Since mid-2010, over $35 million has flowed from Slow Money funders to more than 325 small food enterprises via 19 local networks and 10 investment clubs-and more than $7 million has been invested into 35 small food enterprises at Slow Money gatherings. This year's event will feature world-renowned thought leaders, food entrepreneurs and farmers, pioneering investors and donors, and "just plain regular folks who want to know where their food comes from and where their money goes." LocalHarvest founder Guillermo Payet will be a panelist at this event talking about the future of CSAs. Be part of this forward-thinking group and help redefine our relationship with money and with food. Advanced ticket sales end September 30th. Local Harvest subscribers receive a 15% discount on registration.

CSAware: Looking ahead to 2015

This time of year many CSA farmers are looking ahead to next year and considering some changes. If you're in that group, it might be a great time to take a look at our CSA management software, CSAware. If you would like to see how it works and what it can offer your farm, let us know and we'll set you up for a tour.

Food from the Farm: Pickled Beets

When my friend Angel, who some of you know from CSAware, heard I was working on this newsletter she said, "You should write about beets! They are such a great vegetable - good for roasting, boiling, and canning, AND you can store them for winter." I couldn't agree more. Beets are the best. Here's our favorite way to pickle them.