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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Farm Shares but Were Too Afraid to Ask

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“Who is our farmer?" my daughter asks me.

We are at the farm, picking up our weekly farm share.


“Let me introduce you to Anne," I tell her.

I lead her by the hand toward our ponytailed farmer.

“Mama, I thought farmers were boys," my daughter whispers.

“Well, this one is a lady," I whisper back.

When I met my husband, a bona fide sustainable food systems geek, I'd never heard of a farm share. I bought all my food at the grocery store. I had a dim awareness that cantaloupe isn't in season during the winter, if only because it's not available from October through April. It never occurred to me to be grateful that for an avocado that traveled all the way from Mexico in December. I found it annoying that beets were so hard to clean, never considering the fact that they'd grown in the soil before being picked. As if by magic – a brand of magic I lacked the awareness to even appreciate – nearly any food I wanted was available to me virtually whenever I wanted it. I had no idea how amazing this was until I developed a different relationship with food through our farm share.

What is a farm share?

A farm share, also known as Community Supported Agriculture – or CSA – allows farmers to sell directly to the consumer. When you purchase a farm share, you pay for a share of produce up front, usually in the winter, despite the fact that in most climates, you won't receive any produce until late spring or early summer. This is mutually beneficial to you and the farmer, as the farmer wouldn't normally have any revenue coming in until harvest time (e.g., spring), while you are guaranteed a share of the bounty. By buying a share, you are taking on some risk, just as you would if you were buying stock in a publicly held company. A late frost or an unexpected storm could mean a smaller share. By the same token, your share of the harvest will be generous if the farm has a good growing season.

Is a farm share for me?

Being directly connected with the farm that produces your food gives you a chance to see the place where your food is grown. Like most parents of small children, I approach grocery shopping with dread when I have to bring my kids along, or with resentment on those occasions when I am trading precious free time for the chance to hit the supermarket solo. Taking my kids to the farm, however, is another story. Now that they are old enough (at ages three and five) to actually help, I look forward to our weekly visit to the farm. The kids help me weigh apricots and choose bunches of kale. If there's time, they like to look at the pigs and feed carrot tops to the ducks.

Even if you don't pick your food up at the farm, many farms host a party to kick off the season and/or at the season's end. No matter where you pick up your food, in most cases you'll meet the people who pick, wash, and bundle it, if not the farmer herself.

Food not only tastes different (read: better) when you get it fresh and straight from the source, but it looks different, too. The other night, my daughter pretended to blow dry her hair with a carrot. I stopped short of reminding her not to play with her food as I realized she couldn't help it. Shaped like an uppercase “L," the carrot bore an uncanny resemblance to a hairdryer.

A non-exhaustive list of delightful, quirky items that have turned up in our farm share include a head of lettuce larger as big as a volleyball, two-headed cherries, a double-yolk egg, and a carrot that missed its calling as a human anatomy model. I constantly have to squelch my impulse to say, “Look at this weird vegetable!" when I see these anomalies. The truth is, these “weird" vegetables are healthy and totally normal. (It is my belief that veggies are like people: The more perfect they appear, the more damaged they are inside.)

When you sign up for a farm share, you're not just admiring and Instagramming your oddly shaped goodies – you're eating them. While there are endless debates on what constitutes the “best" or “healthiest" diet, it's hard to find anyone who would recommend decreasing your consumption of fresh veggies.

While it can be annoying to come up with a way to prepare a food you've never heard of before (daikon radish, anyone?), letting veggies rot while you eat take-out is a certain recipe for guilt. Meanwhile, it's easy to find ways to prepare your bounty. Many farm shares offer recipes in their newsletters and/or on their websites. Plus, there's always Pinterest. Experimenting with new recipes or combinations of ingredients you might not normally combine forces a degree of creativity. Thanks to my farm share, I now know a dozen ways to eat fava beans, and how to shell them. (See also: the garlic scape-shallot-fava bean hummus I recently invented, based on the contents of our share.)

Farm shares aren't for everyone. If you go out to eat often, travel frequently, or do not enjoy cooking, your wilting, uneaten produce will probably provide more sadness than joy. At a minimum, you need to commit to the weekly pickup, storage, and preparation of your food. Depending how much you get, it can make sense to wash, slice, and store your produce right away to preserve freshness if you won't use all of it in the first half of the week. If this feels too overwhelming, a farm share might not be a fit for you. If you like to map out a strict menu on a weekly or monthly basis, not knowing exactly which or how much food you're getting will not mesh with your system.

Of course, the price is another consideration. The cost is comparable to organic produce at the grocery store. However, with a farm share you don't get to choose which fruits and vegetables you buy. Budget constraints might make a farm share impossible, not only due to the expense but also because of the required upfront financial commitment.

Which farm share should I choose?

One of the most important factors to consider is whether the farm offers the types of items you're interested in. While the staples of most farm shares are vegetables, many offer a variety of other products, such as:

  • fruit
  • coffee
  • eggs
  • cheese
  • bread
  • flowers
  • wine
  • soap
  • tofu
  • honey
  • meat/poultry

Another consideration is what options the farm offers, as far as quantity goes. You'll want to consider your budget and the amount of food you expect to use. Most farms offer small, medium, or large shares, but some only offer one or two size options. Most require weekly pickup, but some may offer a bi-weekly option. Meanwhile, if you're buying meat, the pickup is likely to be on a monthly basis.

The pickup situation is another important factor. The perfect farm share is not perfect if the pickup time and place do not fit your schedule. The pickup location is, in fact, much more important than the location of the farm itself, as most farms offer pickups throughout the region where they're located.

I've been part of farm shares with pickups at a variety of locations, including:

  • the local farmer's market
  • a neighborhood park
  • a fellow CSA member's garage
  • at the farm itself

If you're lucky enough to work for an organization that has a corporate partnership with a farm, you can grab your veggies right at your office. For example, Colorado's Grant Family Farms will designate your work place a pickup location (and offer a group discount) as long as a minimum of 10 employees purchases a farm share.

The reasons for buying a farm share (or not) are as personal as your opinion on Brussel sprouts. For me, a farm share means being invested in my local food system, eating delicious food, trying new recipes, and storing extra kale and rainbow chard in the freezer for the green smoothies my kids refuse to eat. It means treating my summer menu planning like I treat the rest of my summer – with less structure and more fun. It's the smiles on my kids' faces when they help me fill a bag with two pounds worth of black cherries on a Wednesday afternoon at the farm. It's searching for new turnip recipes and eating fresh salad greens for breakfast. It's running into our farmer and her family at the pool on a Saturday morning. And it's thanking the people who feed my family, face to face.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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