Community-supported meat, cheese, and bread—yum!January 20, 2010
For the past several years, we’ve been getting a tasty farm box stuffed with fruits, nuts, and vegetables each week, which has many a night been the saving grace for dinner. Community-supported agriculture, or CSA, subscriptions also help small farms stay in business—each subscriber pays in advance and receives some of the bounty each week. In good years, boxes are overflowing; in bad years, there may be some gaps from time to time. It’s a way of sharing the risks with the farm owners who might not otherwise have the resources to stay afloat year to year. We’ve been very pleased with our farm box, and they do a great job of trading their surplus with other nearby farms to balance out the box contents.
But at the end of the day, one cannot live on vegetables alone. (Well, okay, maybe you could—but it wouldn’t be much fun!) Enter community-supported food. Way back in 2008, I promised to follow up the Bay Area CSA list with a list of other delicious goodness you can get—so here it is, a little late! In the East Bay, you can now get just about anything in local subscription form—and the eating’s never been better! Here’s a sampling of CSF organizations with drop-off spots in Oakland and Berkeley.
Meat shares provide a way to purchase meat and eggs from small local ranches that raise their animals more sustainably. Each ranch’s program is a bit different as far as what you get and how much control you have over that, so check the details for the one you’re interested in.
- Bay Area Meat CSA (clearinghouse for many small ranches; one-time and subscription opportunities)
- Soul Food Farm (chicken and eggs)
- Marin Sun Farms Meat CSA (beef, lamb, goat, pork, veal, poultry)
- Barbarosa Ranchers Meat CSA (beef, lamb, pork, chicken)
- Clark Summit Meat Club (beef, pork, chicken, eggs)
Many fruit-and-vegetable CSAs also offer nuts and grains, but a few farms specialize in these less common staples.
- Windborne Farm (many grains, beans, and seeds)
- Massa Organics (brown rice, wheat berries, and almonds for sale online or at Oakland and Berkeley farmers markets)
Not exactly CSAs per se, but these cheese clubs offer fun (if pricey) ways to support local producers while trying a nice assortment of new cheeses.
Groceries and prepared foods
This is a new spin on an age-old concept: the basic components of your meal, carefully selected and prepared for you to pick up at worker-owned cooperatives.
- Three Stone Hearth Community-Supported Kitchen (Berkeley pickup with delivery option)
- The Cooperative Grocery (CoG) (Emeryville pickup; also has member work requirement)
And new to the scene: bread!
Last but not least, an old co-worker of mine has started up her own community-supported bakery, so this spring we’re getting fresh-baked bread once a week (conveniently on the same day we get our farm box, so Wednesday night dinners are pretty tasty these days!) You can get the whole scoop here (and can also find out more about her other food projects, like the Indilicious food cart that is making its way through the streets of San Francisco).
- Pandora’s Box (Berkeley pickup)
Yum! Now all we need is some chickens and a goat, and we’d be all set! (Although in fairness, that won’t help D. much—we need to start growing rice for that…)