Learning where food comes from: classes, CSAs, farmers markets

25 Nov

Chomp & Chew
Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011
Becca Goldring, Alligator Blogger

One of the greatest pleasures one can experience is knowing exactly where the food he or she eats comes from. Much like the satisfaction of getting a paycheck after a strenuous pay period, consuming the food you have a connection to offers the same sense of fulfillment.

In Gainesville, there are many options to developing a green thumb. If you are a student, the one-credit elective class ORH1030 called “Plants, Gardening and You” allows students to plant a 10-by-10 plot of land on the west side of campus and grow and harvest produce throughout the semester. Plants include anything from cucumbers and tomatoes to pumpkins and sunflowers.

There are a variety of other food-themed classes at UF. These classes are important in clarifying the science of food (FOS3042 Introduction to Food Science), the politics of food (POS4931 Food Politics), what food means to different groups (SYA4930 Food Justice & Society), food related to other countries (EUS3930 Gender and Food Politics in Europe) and the impact on food in the environment (AGG3501 Environment Food/Society). Any one of these classes should offer an interesting perspective to the nourishment you provide for yourself.

In the Gainesville area, there are also a variety of CSA programs. This initiative, which stands for community-supported agriculture, can be compared to a timeshare. A group of people pitch in to collectively support a farm, and each week they receive a portion of the haul. Most of the time a bag of produce is delivered to their local farmers market for convenience. Some CSAs in the area are PlowsharesSeimbra and Heirloom Country Farms. For a complete list of Gainesville CSAs, click here.

The UF Office of Sustainability also runs a student-centered CSA which has an on-campus pick up location. The four farms involved are Swallowtail, Kumarie’s Organic Garden, Graham Farms and The Family Garden Organic Farm. For more information about participating in the 2011-2012 season, check out Gator CSA.

Another way to take advantage of directly knowing where your food comes from is frequenting one of our many local farmers markets. There is one on Wednesdays in downtown Gainesville, Saturday morning in Haile Plantation and Alachua, Fridays at Thornebrook Village in Millhopper and Sunday afternoons at Citizens Co-Op. For more information on each, check out this article. Take advantage of these markets by asking the farmers and vendors any questions about the produce and goods they are selling.

Whether planting your own food, learning about food, supporting a farm or purchasing locally, the satisfaction gained from connecting with food is immeasurable.

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