Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Short Haul Trucker

Yesterday was my first shift picking up and delivering CSA shares for White House Meats in their refrigerated van.

What’s that? A meat CSA? Yes. Usually Community Supported Agriculture shares consist of weekly boxes of fresh, local fruits and vegetables, but they don’t have to be fruits and veggies. I’ve heard of everything from an all-herb CSA to a pie CSA to, well, a friend of mine was even talking about doing a beer CSA. (Sign me up! And dad wants a double share.) The point is you're supporting local producers and getting a high quality of a variety of tasty goodies. White House Meats approached me a few months ago to see if I could help them start up a local, grassfed meat CSA to market their pastured beef, chicken, pork, and lamb to folks in DC. I’ve tasted their wares – good stuff. How could I resist the chance to get out of the city to visit farms one day a week, yap with farmers, pick up delicious, Ibti-approved meat, then bring it back into the city and talk with folks about how to cook it? We decided on an 8-week trial run to gauge interest, test out the model, and work out the kinks.

Oh. Your question was about the driving of the van? Yes, it’s a little out of the ordinary for me. For the record, though I have never owned a car, I did drive the 15-passenger van quite often during my AmeriCorps days. I have a drivers' license, you know, even if I mostly use it when I get carded buying beer. Ollie -- my faithful Long Haul Trucker -- was pouting in the corner when I returned from my gig as a Short Haul Trucker around 7:30 last night. She didn’t seem at all impressed when I showed her the mock tenderloin Seth sent me home with as thanks for a job well done. (True, I suppose bicycles don’t eat much meat. It is a beautiful cut, though. I’ll have to cook it up with a few friends this weekend....) So, yes, I am, as a rule, a cyclist, but the local, grassfed meat CSA was too good of an idea to pass up. And it is patently ridiculous* for me to bicycle out 60-100 miles to these farms, pick up over 120 pounds of meat, and keep it cold while biking it back 60-100 miles into town each week. So, yes, I drove. And sang quite loudly along with the radio, as it was "Two For Tuesday" on the classic rock station and they just kept playing lots of The Who and Hendrix and... well, anyway, it's probably for the best that Seth got stuck in a meeting...

My first CSA drop-off day had a few hiccups, of course: Seth got stuck in a meeting, so my inaugural drive out to pick up grassfed beef from Fauquier’s Finest about an hour and a half away in Virginia was with a GPS rather than the planned human navigator; I had to make a few U-turns out on not-so-well-labeled country roads; a couple of crates toppled over in the back of the refrigerated van (due, most likely, to the aforementioned U-turns); there was a fair bit of rain; and three folks missed the pickup window at District Crossfit (we left their shares in the gym's fridge overnight).

In the end everything seemed to work out. In fact, a few folks already sent in thank you notes. This one’s my favorite: “Already made burgers with the ground beef...Best.Thing.EVER. You guys are awesome, this was such a great idea! Thanks so much!!!”

Not a bad first day. If all goes well, maybe we can expand and extend the program after the 2-month trial. Don't worry, I'll never be a full-time trucker....

*Dad, I know what you are thinking: "It was patently ridiculous to bicycle around the country for over a year...."

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