If you’re looking for fresh vegetables and meat right from the farmer, where do you look? Farmers' markets and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are excellent ways to know you’re getting quality food and supporting a family farmer. But those of us that enjoy seafood discover it isn’t quite as easy to get food straight from the source, unless you’re lucky enough to have a friend that's a fisherman or the time to bait your own hooks. Luckily, Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) are starting to gain popularity. Similar to the CSA model, you pay up-front for a weekly or monthly portion of food straight from the person growing (or in this case, catching) it, which helps the producer with stable prices and a guaranteed market. In this way, growers (and fishermen) and consumers provide mutual support for each other and their community and share the risks and benefits of food production.
The Boston Globe had an article about a great CSF program in Maine that is looking to make it a lot easier for consumers to help support fishermen in their area while getting the freshest catch off the boat. Since fishermen can get more money by selling directly to customers without a middleman taking a cut, they can adopt more sustainable fishing practices. With the dire threats facing seafood, from overfishing and pollution, this seems like a promising way to ensure we can continue to enjoy seafood and support fishermen well into the future.
Now the only problem is waiting for this trend to blossom so I can join a program in my area for myself! Would you join a CSF if there was one in your area?