Farm Adventures

I recently joined a local food co-op. The Massachusetts Local Food Cooperative, founded roughly 4 years ago, provides individuals the ability to purchased locally sourced food (including sustainable, humanely raised meat) once per month. For the vendors, it is an on-demand system (they know how much of a given product to deliver) which can augment the farmers market/CSA business model.

Yesterday, I volunteered in the distribution system of packing member boxes. While I did have fun (although my shoulder is rebelling about this idea today) and am still VERY grateful I did not see a scary chicken, what I found to be the most fascinating aspect about the process was the diversity of the individuals. From the bumper stickers ON the cars, this was an unlikely group of people who would stereotypically get along. But you know what? They did. Conversations were about how to improve systems, commenting on the growing seasons: or more simply stated, working together to get the job done.

Most of the volunteers are also producers.  Everybody who purchases items through the co-op is supporting local small businesses which then provides a direct return on dollars spent into the central Massachusetts economy. One of the producers I purchased an item from is a cheese vendor. I had previously purchased their items from a national supermarket chain. I was thrilled to see the items on the food co-op list. First, they were less expensive and second, my money was going directly to the producer.

Economists and pundits have long-held that the key to economic recovery is the growth of the small/local businesses. I would also like to think that part of the recovery from the hate filled rhetoric of the past election is the growth of local ventures like the food co-op I joined. There were people there who worked with and saw “the other” and there was not an ounce of debate. There is so much more we have in common that which divides us. I really don’t care if my carrots were raised by a person whom I have divergent political views, what I do care about is the economic growth of my community and the ability to retain local industries and small farms. And, of course, the health benefits of eating locally sourced food is a bonus. I even tried goat sausage. I’ll admit, it was good. And I’m more than a little bummed I didn’t buy a jar of honey. The plus side is? There is always next month!

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