By Stacy Hoelting, Culinary Arts Student
As a result of attending Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, I have the unique opportunity, much different from all other culinary schools and programs, to visit and work on organic farms. I have the privilege to visit farms that produce cow’s milk, goat’s milk and cheese, eggs, vegetables, fruits, meats, and numerous other extraordinary items. Not only have I planted vegetables, held baby turkeys and goats, pulled obnoxious weeds, and gathered fresh chicken eggs, but I have also been able to cook on these farms as well, using the fresh produce available. The experience of spending time with my classmates, bonding over farm fresh produce and assisting the local culinary community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of the entire culinary program.
I have learned from the farmers about how to operate a farm without the use of tractors and chemical substances, and also how to communicate within the community in order to make the farm produce available to those who want to purchase directly from the farms. Farms such as these are known as CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, which allows farmers to sell their produce to individuals who subscribe to the farms without being forced to spray the produce with sterilizing chemicals. Instead, these CSA farms can naturally wash the vegetables in sanitized areas, assuring safety, and provide the produce to the utmost organic standards. Individuals who subscribe to these farms can stop by the farm or pick-up location once a week to gather their vegetables, fruits, or whatever the particular farm produces.
Becoming familiar with the local community farms is a great way to assure consumption of safely produced food items and support local business. Even if subscribing to a farm of this nature seems out of the budget, many farms will trade services, so trading a dinner or lunch provided for those working on the farm for produce once a week may be a great idea.