Embrace Freshness, Support Local: Thornapple CSA's New Journey Begins!

Nurturing Nourishment: A Kid’s-Eye View of Community-Supported Agriculture

June 26, 2024

Table of Contents

Nurturing Nourishment: A Kid’s-Eye View of Community-Supported Agriculture

A Week of Eating Locally

Since many people have been spending more time at home, backyard gardens and local farms have become more common sources of food than they were in previous years. I have been caught up in this shift myself, joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program with my family for which we pick up a crate full of a variety of produce each week. At the beginning of the pandemic when grocery stores struggled to keep some products stocked on the shelves, it opened people’s eyes, including my own, to how dependent we are on long and complex supply chains. If that chain were to break down, would I still be able to feed myself through entirely local food producers?

My experience with the CSA increased my attention to how our food reaches us, and a recent feature I wrote for the Nurture Nature Center’s Buy Fresh Buy Local program got me thinking about how different my diet and experience of shopping for and preparing food might be if I prioritized eating locally produced foods. I decided to devote a week to trying it out.

A Week of Eating Locally

My week of eating locally was an eye-opening exercise. I realized before the week started that eating locally would require me to change my food shopping routine. I wouldn’t be able to get items that matched my definition of local at my regular grocery store. In order to get as much of the food I would need in one stop, I visited a Farmers Market on the weekend. I ended up also going to a local bakery, but if I had thought ahead, I could have gotten bread at the Farmers Market as well. This, in combination with the produce we had from our CSA and preserved/stored local foods, made up most of my food for the week. I did make one additional trip to a local retail farm market midway through the week, intending to pick up some local chicken, but they were sold out.

The wide variety of local foods I had made for varied breakfasts, lunches, and snacks that were nearly entirely comprised of local foods, with the exception of butter, oil, salt, and seasonings. Breakfasts included eggs with potatoes and toast, blueberry oatmeal with maple syrup, and my favorite – French toast made with local sourdough bread. For lunches, I made a few variations of a similar meal with homemade pasta prepared on Sunday using local spelt flour, salads, fruit, and leftovers from previous nights’ dinners. Snacks included fruit, peanut butter toast, and popcorn microwaved on the cob in a paper bag.

Dinners typically included some non-local pantry staples like pasta and rice, but the side dishes primarily consisted of local produce – a variety of local corn, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beets, and more were the stars of colorful and flavorful meals. I was happy with the balance of foods I had and impressed that local items certainly made up the majority of what I ate for the week.

Preserving Local Foods

This week also happened to be the week my family made freezer corn, preparing 100 ears of local corn to be kept in the freezer through the winter. We had some frozen blueberries from earlier in the summer and strawberry jam as well. These types of preserved local foods are not something I could decide to switch over to in one day, but as time passes and new habits around food are formed, more local foods can be integrated into the diet year-round in this way.


This week was a surprising exercise for me in thinking about where my food comes from, realizing how much local food I already rely on, and finding new ways to enjoy local food that I will certainly carry forward and add to my regular diet. I’d recommend that everyone visits their local farmers market or farm stand and explores how local food options could feature more heavily in their diet. It doesn’t have to happen all at once – try starting by purchasing only local eggs or meat or having one all-local meal on the day of your nearest farmers market. Participate in community gardens and have a hand in growing your own local food while meeting and learning from other gardeners. Try a couple of recipes for preserving summer crops by canning, freezing, or making jam so you can continue to enjoy local options in the colder months.

Any of these steps help your dollars circulate within the local economy, support small producers who use more environmentally-friendly practices than industrial farms, discover new favorite foods, and enhance the nutrients you receive from your diet. Eating locally is also a great example of how individual actions and community-level changes rely on one another to be successful. I was able to eat a lot of local food, but it would have been even simpler and would likely draw more people in if my grocery store had a large selection of food from local producers, if restaurants were motivated to purchase mostly local ingredients, and if information about where food is produced was easily accessible. At the same time, deciding to eat locally in the current local food landscape could help demonstrate the public desire for those community-level solutions and begin to build social norms around knowing where your food comes from and valuing local food producers. We all have a role to play in building sustainable communities, and focusing on local foods is a delicious way to start.

Hours of Operation

Wednesdays 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Saturdays 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Special Events or by Reservation
Business Hours 9:00am – 5:00pm EST
Copyright © 2024 Nurture Nature Center – Privacy Policy

Nourishment and Nurturing

Many thanks to my dear friend Christine who has been an early supporter of this blog for planting the seed for today’s post. Christine broke her leg – and I mean really broke it severely – while traveling in Norway recently. When I volunteered to take her some supper last week, she suggested that an exploration of the relationship between food as bodily nourishment and as a means for nurturing friendships might be worthy of a blog post. I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on that topic as well as on the relationship between the concepts of nourishing and nurturing more broadly as they relate to food.

I suppose I should not be surprised at how complex and interesting these topics have turned out to be. Yesterday morning, just after I sat down to start writing, I had an inspiring discussion about all this with my college roommate. She is an avid home cook and mother of two to whom both the nourishing and nurturing aspects are deeply important, and she observed that there probably are at least three posts’ worth of material embedded in this topic. After all the places my mind has gone over the last few days, I agree. In the interest of getting the discussion underway, I’ve decided to start with a recitation of my early observations, with the intent to explore each of the various threads more deeply in later posts as the blog develops. As always, I welcome the views and ideas of others in the comment section.

Nourishing versus Nurturing as a Technical Matter

Being a word nerd, I began my consideration of the nourishing-nurturing relationship by looking up both words in the dictionary. Although many dictionaries and thesauri (or thesauruses, depending on who you ask) indicate that the words “nourish” and “nurture” are synonyms based on the most common definitions, I think there’s an important shade of meaning that distinguishes them.

“Nourish” seems to relate to the simple of act of providing another living being with required nutrients, whereas “nurture” means going about the task of nourishing in a manner that specifically encourages positive development and well-being. At least where food is concerned, I think there are many ways in which this distinction can be appreciated. Eating, by definition, is nourishing, but whether and the extent to which it truly nurtures depends critically on the context.

First Thoughts When the Link Between Nourishment and Nurturing is Missing

Nourishment and nurturing are concepts that easily can, and I would argue should, go hand in hand. My first thoughts on the subject, however, took me back to my earliest relationship with food, which is a sad demonstration that the provision of nourishment can at times be entirely devoid of the nurture element.

During my early elementary school years, my pediatrician labeled me as having a “weight problem,” and with the consent of my mother, decided that I needed to report for biweekly weight checks for the duration of my youth. This was coupled with periodic trips to a nutritionist whose main instruction to me about food involved tricks for how to deprive myself of it. My mother’s first stop on the way home from many of these humiliating visits was the fast food drive-thru. I’ll let you, dear reader, connect the dots as you see fit on that one.

Weight, and therefore food, became a deep source of shame and guilt for me from a very young age. Instead of feeling nurtured by food and the people who provided it, food became an enemy I hated to love and tried assiduously, yet ultimately never very successfully, to avoid. To the extent food and eating nurtured anything, it was self-loathing, although “nurture” I think is a term misplaced in this context.

Food remained hopelessly entangled with shame and guilt in my psyche for a very long time. How I later was able to find inspiration and eventually even pleasure from cooking is a long story that will require its own post (hint: it involved many hours with a most excellent therapist). For the time being, I will say that thankfully I now spend a lot more time looking for food and the act of preparing it for myself and those I love as an opportunity for true nurturing, as I understand that term.

The Beauty of Dining as an Experience and Its Importance to Families and Friendships

One of the keys to understanding nourishment and nurturing is the recognition that both are much more likely to result when eating is done mindfully as its own experience. It is my strongly held view that food consumed while driving the car, standing at the kitchen counter, watching TV, or walking down the street is never as nurturing as food that is served at the table where it is the sole focus of attention. Foods consumed on the fly also often aren’t even particularly nourishing because they are likely to be the kind of highly-processed items that are easy to eat while doing something else.

Once upon a time, the mindful dining experience of eating real food was widely recognized in the form of the family dinner. That is one thing for which I will give my parents large amounts of positive credit. No matter what each of the four of us in our immediate family had been doing earlier in the day, we almost always sat down and had supper together. This provided an opportunity not only to eat, but also to converse about the day’s events and appreciate one another.

I am under the impression, perhaps wrongly I fervently hope wrongly, that the home-cooked family dinner is largely becoming a thing of the past. In my own home, even though I cook almost every night, ensuring that we eat our home-cooked meal at the table together and pay attention to the meal and to each other sometimes still can be a challenge. When I told my college roommate this, she noted that in her neighborhood in New York City, even taking the first step of cooking at home is an anomaly and quipped that most of her neighbors used their ovens to store sweaters. I don’t doubt it a bit, and I give her tons of credit for resisting the neighborhood trend and placing such careful and loving emphasis on cooking for and eating with her children, nurturing them in such a fundamental way as she provides their required physical nourishment.

Thankfully, food as a means to nurturing is not limited to the confines of family life. There are so many ways in which the preparation and sharing of food with friends does indeed nurture those friendships, as my friend Christine observed. The beauty of food as nurturing in this context is that it serves as a source of goodness and strength both in the times we tend to label “bad” and in the times we tend to label “good,” such that the opportunities for giving and receiving this type of nourishment abound.

When someone is incapacitated or grieving, one of the first things his or her friends do is take over some home cooking or, if appropriate under the particular circumstances, get them out of the house to go find something good to eat together. This not only sustains the body during a time when the physical act of providing for one’s own physical nourishment is challenging, but also cares for the ailing person’s spirit and enriches the bond between the giver and the recipient. What could be more nurturing than that?

Well, maybe equally nurturing is the act of providing food to friends and family for the purpose of celebrating. This could be because it is Thanksgiving, New Year’s, a birthday, or a religious holiday, all of which traditionally and with good reason tend to revolve around eating together. Or it simply could be because it is Saturday or Tuesday and hey, wouldn’t it be fun to have some friends over? Preparing a meal for others for the sheer pleasure of doing it is in my book one of the highest forms of friendship.

The Relationship Between Giving and Receiving

Although I understand that maybe not everyone sees it that way, which gets me to what I think will be my next-to-last point. When one person is providing food to another, whether it be in a restaurant or at home, the nourishing and nurturing aspects of food are not one-sided affairs. There’s what the giver intends and then there’s how the recipient feels about it.

Sometimes their attitudes about the offering are in perfect sync, but that certainly is not always the case. In my recent experience with my friend Christine, who is vegan, I made a vegan casserole with loving and caring thoughts about her recovery in mind, and she received my offering with deep appreciation that I had done so. I think that food is at its most nurturing of body and soul when the giving and receiving wavelengths line up in this manner.

It is equally possible, however, that a meal cooked with such positive thoughts of love and caring will be received as just another acceptable meal or, god forbid, might even be considered lacking in some way. As a person for whom cooking is deeply important, until recently the knowledge that this can happen has been very hard for me to accept, with the StoveTop incident of Thanksgiving 2015 discussed in a previous post being a recent case in point.

Slowly and more than a little reluctantly, I have come to realize that not everyone will appreciate the care and good karma I strive to bring to the kitchen. This potential for a mismatch between giver and recipient is, as they say, what it is, and I have recently come to the view that it is better to accept it than become indignant about it. And it could be worse – I believe the least nourishing and nurturing food experiences occur when neither the cook nor the eater has brought awareness to the higher salutary purposes food can serve.

The Grass is Greener?

Please God, if you are in the business of reincarnating people, let me be born in Italy or France next time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a place where care is taken in both the preparation and enjoyment of food as a matter of course, and where the familial dining experience occurs on a daily basis? I’m thinking that maybe one or two such places still exist, and they most likely are called Italy and France.

Maybe I am just being overly-romantic because my view of those beautiful countries is through a tourist’s eyes, and because let’s face it, from time to time in the past I have had my share of crushes on Italian and French men. I have noticed in the course of my daily life, however, that my Italian and French friends as a group have a much more reverent and healthy attitude toward food, and they also have much higher standards concerning food quality than most of my American-born friends.

Because I dream of a place in which everyone is of a like mind about the importance of these issues, I really do hope that if reincarnation exists, then I can be born in Italy or France the next time around to get proper food training from the very start. Spain and Greece perhaps also are contenders. Well, I have rambled on enough for one day (two days actually, because that is how long I’ve been writing this), so I will sign off for now and welcome any thoughts you might have on this multi-faceted subject.

About Us

Thornapple CSA: A community-driven initiative championing sustainable agriculture. We connect members with fresh, organic produce, celebrating the bond between land and community.

Follow On

Subscrive Our Newsletter
To Get More Updates

© 2023 Thornapplecsa.com. All Rights Reserved