Eating in season is more important now than ever.  With large companies threatening the small, local farmer, grassroots efforts are popping up all around the country.

Cypress, Texas is no exception.

We are not only consumers. We are part of a movement (an exciting movement!)

Making a commitment becomes a way of life….and, with GREAT reason.

My name is Brandi McRill. My husband and I co-own and manage a vegetable co-op/ CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. My husband, Jack, and I have created a hybrid of the two by supporting our local farmers in a way we’ve never seen across the country thus far.

We buy, in bulk, from local farmers within a 45-mile radius of Cypress pooling fruits, veggies, micro-greens and herbs from the local farming community. We portion them into shares for our members. Each share is available for $30 for pick-up on Wednesdays. The farms we work with are passionate about being herbicide, pesticide, and fungicide free and can be found at local markets.
 

The grocery store….

When you begin to eat in season, the grocery store becomes a shining example of why we need change. We can walk into a store and have access to fruits and veggies all around the world. Eating organic becomes not enough.

At one point in time, the grocery store is how I fed my family and I loved going every weekend. I knew nothing about eating in season because EVERYTHING was at my fingertips. The only produce I can recall ever waiting to come in season were artichokes, Brussel sprouts, and asparagus.

I never thought of what the barcodes meant; or, why each fruit was assigned a number and has a little sticker.

I even remember telling my husband, years ago, “I don’t buy this whole organic thing. The food is more expensive, it looks the same as what we eat now and it tastes the same, too.”

However, the past two years have brought a TON of wisdom and a new perspective.

We are (almost!!) completely free of trips to the grocery store. Now, my family can eat what we get from the farmers to fill our plates and fuel our bodies with fruits, meats and veggies raised responsibly and free of chemicals. Talk about empowerment!!!

During Christmas, we took 2 weeks off from the co-op.  The grocery store was a different experience than the one I previously enjoyed so much. I caught myself asking where the products came from and where, in the world, it was in season…because I knew it could not have come from anywhere close.
 

Get a newfound appreciation for the seasons…
I have to say, seasonal eating is the most interesting transition.  I always associated strawberries with my June birthday. Well, in South TX, strawberries are in season from mid-December to late March so that’s out the window for me now.

I’ve observed that each season’s bounty is compatible with one another.  Who doesn’t associate tomatoes with okra or green beans and yellow squash with zucchini?  Well, it appears there is a reason for that!!!  Certain vegetables grow side by side in the same environmental conditions and they marry well together for that reason.

It will be until next December until I enjoy another farm fresh strawberry.  At first, I thought I would just die!!  As I’m sure you are thinking as well…

But, honestly, I eat my fill of each veggie when it’s in season.  I am happy to see what’s coming next and I rarely crave anything until it’s almost time for season again.  Crazy, isn’t it?
 

Eat the way nature intended…

When I took a step back, I realized that each seasonal harvest gives our bodies what we need, when we need it.

After a Texas winter of heavy squashes, potatoes, soups, and stews along comes January and a new crop of greens. The kales, collards, lettuces and spinaches, all designed to give us a cleansing, boost to prepare us for spring.  Summer harvest gives us melons to keep us hydrated and the circle starts all over again.

The ability to have any type of food readily available and at our fingertips is a concept new to modern man. We can walk into any major grocery store and have access to foods from every season. In Texas, we are zone, 9A, meaning we have a different growing climate than all others.  Each zone is specific to their region. Wouldn’t it be cool to have labels the say the zone in which they are grown?
 

You help support your local economy…THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL….

Every year, on New Year’s day, I make a HUGE pot of Black-eyed-pea Gumbo.  Unfortunately, I forgot to freeze and save my red and yellow bell peppers during peak season so you can imagine my relief when my local grocery store had both!  They were bright, colorful and the barcode started with a ‘9’, indicating organic so I bought them, not thinking about that little sticker until I got home. (That’s another cool thing about fresh food…No stickers to remove and CSA’s don’t charge extra for dirt!)

I started to rinse and remove the sticker and that’s when I noticed…those bright, shiny bell peppers came from Israel and Newfoundland.

Israel?!?! Newfoundland?!?!?!

My interest was piqued.

How many hands touched those two bell peppers?  Who picked them? Having a close relationship with many farmers, we get see the impact community support has on their lives. Many of them can pull out of markets, giving them a little time to spend with family. The community that supports the small, local farmer puts dollars directly into the farm rather than corporate giants.

How did my food get from Israel and Newfoundland to Cypress, TX? How many gallons of fuel did it take to get into my hands?

Being in a co-op or CSA, you can count how many hands have touched your food before it gets into yours. You can calculate how many miles your food traveled to get to your plate. You can know where the seeds were purchased, what mulch was used and what date it was planted. You directly help the farmer you support to pay a land note to continue to grow more for you.

What better way to support your local economy?
 

You get to exercise your creativity.

I want to be clear….I LOVE meat. To me, nothing is better than a steak and a glass of red wine or a pork chop or chicken breast and a glass of Texas Viognier (please accept my plug for Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall, TX inserted here…. that Viognier is amazing.)

But, we all need to eat more veggies, right? When you can make fresh veggies the star of the show, your plate becomes more colorful, more diverse and a lot more fun!

Instead of asking yourself, ‘I have chicken in the fridge…what can I do with it?’ think about that broccoli and the fantastic things you can do with it.

Soon you will see veggies can be flavored in even MORE ways than meat. Pinterest boards have boundless information. The CFF2K board is even organized by veggie and has a board customized for each. Check it out and see the amazing things you can do!

So there you have it!  Honestly raised food is available in your own backyard, you can support a local family who raises your food for you and, you save an hour a week.

BTW, I was sooooo wrong about the flavor of organic veggies. Nothing tastes better than freshly picked produce.  One bite and you will be a believer.

What are some of your top reasons?

 

You can email Brandi at brandi@cypressfamilyfarmtokitchen.com to receive her newsletter.

About Author

Brandi McRill

Brandi McRill

Brandi McRill is a new contributing author to the DCG blog and the DCG family is thrilled to welcome her. Brandi and Jack McRill are co-owners of Cypress Family Farm to Kitchen. They are committed to building a bridge between local farmers and the Cypress community. The co-op offers residents an opportunity to purchase fresh produce from farms no more than 35 miles from their homes.