From Community Supported Agriculture to a Community Supported Kitchen

Community Supported Kitchen CSA Next Generation photo
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photo @ flickr

Community Supported Agriculture is now widespread in many U.S. cities and towns- you can find the ones nearest you at the great resource Local Harvest - as a way for farmers to get the economic support they need to keep working producing local (and in many cases) organic fruits and veggies. Of course the other side of it is that eaters get to directly experience local, seasonal produce.

Instead of a CSA, a CSK
Some of my cherished memories are the farm dinners I've experienced at CSA Sauvie Island Organics in Oregon - long tables covered with white linen stretched out right next to the vegetable fields and piled high with summer and early fall bounty, cooked by great and innovative chefs using the fresh, local ingredients at hand. How to recreate that heavenly experience in your own kitchen when, for example, Swiss chard shows up week after week in your CSA basket and you never really liked it or knew what to do with it in the first place? Well one innovative solution is for creative chefs to offer a subscription-based membership for local prepared foods similar to what CSAs offer for locally grown ingredients. Berkeley's Three Stone Hearth has taken up the challenge. Read on for more (and to lose the fear of chard)!

Inside Community Supported Kitchen photo

Bringing "native" nutrition and local food together Leave it to Berkeley, California, home of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse and an active food culture, to be the seed bed for Three Stone Hearth. In a way Three Stone's "communal kitchen" throws back to some great hippy traditions. But while Three Stone Hearth is a great source of nutritious ready-to-eat meals and foods for families or anyone else with less time to spend in the kitchen then they may like, it may seem to some like a radical departure.

Three Heath founders have lots of traditional food preparation experience, and they are extremely conscientious with their sourcing of local and sustainable ingredients. They also follow nutritional guidelines gathered together from around the world by dentist Dr. Weston Price and others. Price's findings have led to ideas that pretty much fly in the face of traditional nutritional guidelines, including a liberal use of traditional fats (not just dairy like butter, but also animal fats such as lard). Also, Three Stone Hearth sells raw, unpasteurized milk and cream (legal to sell in California and some other states), lacto-fermented sauerkrauts and other krauts, and prepared foods with pasture-fed beef, pork, chicken and eggs.

In other words, not for everyone. But it is a great experiment to move beyond just locally-produced foods to locally-prepared foods on a small scale, and hopefully also a precedent for other areas to follow to create true local food economies. In the same vein as many CSAs, subscribers to Three Stone Hearth (subscription is free) have begun to form "pickup clusters" to rotate the task of picking up orders and reducing CO2 and energy used in transport. And Three Stone Hearth does not use plastic packaging for all this take-away: deposits on all-glass containers is part of the deal. Via: Three Stone