This week illustrates many of the challenges that come with belonging to a community supported fishery (CSF) like Cape Ann Fresh Catch (CAFC). Although I love eating my weekly share of sustainably-caught fish, picking it up and using it can present some logistical challenges for a mother with a busy family. As a member, once a week we receive a whole fish (or you could receive fillets) which is delivered at a specific time and location throughout northeastern Massachusetts. For me, the pick-up day is Wednesday and the time is between 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm at Butter Brook Farm in Acton, MA which is about 10 minutes from my house.
Challenge #1 - conflict with the pick-up time. Wednesday was also an early release day for the Chelmsford public schools which meant that instead of being able to use the full half day to take my son and a couple of his friends on a mini field trip, I had to arrange activities around our weekly fish pick-up. This time, it was easy enough to work around since the only real conflict was one that I was creating.
Challenge #2--sometimes deliveries get canceled and have to be made up. As members, we agree to accept that from time to time mother nature will get in the way of a catch which will mean no fish for that week and a make-up delivery will be scheduled. For the winter season, which started back in November and will end next week, we have had four deliveries canceled due to snow and unsafe fishing conditions. The way CAFC decided to make up the missed deliveries was to double up during the last few weeks of the season, so this week instead of one whole fish, we received two…or rather many. The catch this week was winter flounder so we received two bags with about six fish in each. This wouldn’t be so bad except this week my husband had a business trip and tonight (now Friday) he and my son left for an overnight camp-out at the SEE Science Center with the cub scouts, so there has been no occasion to cook and eat the beautiful and very fresh fish we received.
Challenge #3 -- if you can't eat it right away, you still have to fillet it freeze it. Tonight, when I have the house all to myself and could be doing a variety of other more enjoyable, more relaxing activities, I will be filleting winter flounder and then vacuum sealing the fillets to put into the freezer for dinner on another night. Not so awful, but on my first mommy’s night off in over six weeks…after a month of the flu and my husband’s latest two-week business trip to Europe…I had hoped to enjoy a bubble bath, followed by a glass of wine and a baked potato while watching Netflix in my most comfy pair of jammies!
So, why do I do it?
Because I am committed to supporting my local economy and making sure that the men and women who go out on the boats to catch the fish that make my family’s dinner receive a fair wage for the work they do and the sacrifices they make…and most of the time it is no more inconvenient than a trip to the supermarket.
Note: Between their first delivery in June 2009 and October 2010 Cape Ann Fresh Catch kept $1.1 million dollars here in Massachusetts. Through the CSF model, fisherman are able to receive on average 50% more for their catch than through traditional markets. (These statistics came out in a recent e-mail from CAFC to its members.)