Farmers Markets and CSAs

Localized agriculture for all practical purposes requires the revitalization of farmers markets. Farmers markets allow farmers to reconnect to local communities, and allow residents to reconnect to the source of their food. They also cut the middleman out of the food system, which is where the profits of commercial agriculture have been increasingly concentrated over the past century.

Farmers markets also reduce the energy costs of food distribution. A study in Toronto, Canada, found imported foods purchased through the conventional food system traveled 81 times farther than locally produced foods found at the farmers mar-ket.15 Another study showed that if Iowa produced just 10 percent of the food it consumed, it would save 280,000 to 346,000 gallons of fuel.16

CSAs represent another option for localized agriculture. CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture. In a CSA, a community or group of individuals pledge their support for a farm operation and the farm, in return, shares its produce with the CSA members. Members undertake a legal and/or spiritual obligation for the maintenance and continuing prosperity of the farm. CSA members are given an opportunity to connect personally with the source of their food, and may even participate directly in its production. In exchange, the farmer receives capital backing, better prices for his or her crops, financial security, and freedom from having to market her or his produce.

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