Scott Chan is the director of Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA), which oversees Roots Community Supported Agriculture (Roots CSA). Chan wrote to us to explain how Roots CSA works in Alhambra, and how buying locally-farmed produce may effect a positive change in the environment.
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. As humans produce larger amounts of carbon emissions, we are, at the same time, contributing to the greenhouse effect and warming up the planet. So often I have heard people wonder what an individual can do— recycle, car pool, drive less. Those are all good ideas, and here's another option that we have: buy fruits and vegetables from local sources.
Being in LA County, we are right in the middle of "the goods movement." From your favorite pair of sneakers to the blueberries you love with your pancakes, all these goods are imported, or "moved," from other countries and shipped here. Because of this, a lot of fuel and resulting emissions are required to transport goods all around the world.
Think about it. If you are at Albertsons and buying bananas shipped from Guatemala, those bananas had to be packaged and moved from the farm to the docks, from the docks to our port by a big, gas-guzzling ship, from that ship through several trains and trucks until it finally reaches your Albertsons. A lot of work goes in to making sure you have enough potassium!
It is only getting worse. The number of trucks coming through LA County, especially through the San Gabriel Valley, is increasing exponentially. By 2035, the number of trucks on the 710, 10 and 60 freeways will more than double. All of this is so we can get more goods from across the world in to our small towns.
But let's say instead that you buy local and support a farmer in your own region. You can go to the Alhambra Farmers Market on 2nd Street every Sunday, where you'll find farmers from Riverside County to parts of Central California. Purchasing this way not only supports a local small business, but at the same time cuts down on the emissions that are a part of delivery. Instead of going through docks, ports, and trains, your decision to buy from local farmers limits the amount of transportation needed to keep your family fed.
However not everyone can visit or afford the Alhambra farmers market. A great alternative is Roots Community Supported Agriculture (Roots CSA). Roots CSA is a program of a local nonprofit, the Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA), which reconnects neighborhoods with farms through collective purchasing. The program is simple; residents pay a farmer up front for a season's worth of produce. The farmers use the money to grow vegetables for an entire season, and then the items are delivered to a local community institution for pick-up every two weeks. We partner only with farmers who use sustainable growing practices and are pesticide-free. For Alhambra, Roots CSA has partnered with First Baptist Church on Atlantic Boulevard for pickups and has been successfully operating for one season. There's more information on how to sign up here.
Some might suggest that an individual making these changes might not add up to much; how will this negate the growing number of polluting trucks coming through our neighborhoods? I want to challenge you on this. Similar to the reasoning behind why everyone should vote, making this individual choice can lead to considerable community impacts. Take Roots CSA for example. It started off with one volunteer in his Toyota Corolla buying vegetables for 12 families from one farmer. Now it has expanded in the past three years to two paid staff supporting 120 families and three farmers, with plenty of planned growth in the works. If we can encourage our friends, families, and neighbors to consider supporting the farmers market, buying a CSA, and/or advocating to local businesses to sell more local items, we can, over time, drastically impact climate change.