The raccoons have been having a field day ever since we joined a community-supported fish co-op (like a CSA, but with fish). A CSF (no, really!).
Somehow the raccoons knew about our first pickup even before we brought the trash out that night, which contained the remains of two haddocks I filleted (butchered is more like it, though sharpened knives and lots of practice have since improved my technique by a small fraction). As I made my way in the dark to the trash cans, I could see 20 pairs of glowing eyes in the bushes. “Don’t get too excited,” I said, as I dropped the bag into the barrel and carefully backed away. “It’s mostly just skin.” Then I sprinted inside before they could shake me down.
Late last night, emboldened by the prospect of pollock and three flounders (where do they get their information?), the raccoons and their extended families were all lined up at the picnic table on our well-lit porch, forks in paws, one of them tapping his watch while looking me dead in the eye. Don’t they know I keep all of the good trash for stock?
Cape Ann Fresh Catch has been doing a brisk business since they started selling shares in their CSF earlier this year. After missing the boat this summer, I signed up for a trial run in October through a partnership they were developing with my CSA (cue shot of boats run aground in the fields, lines tangled up in tomatillo plants, another fisherman pulling up a rabbit).
However, the CSF ran into a snafu with the City of Waltham, which doesn’t allow for traveling vendors. I believe “gypsies” was the term the City used. Nice. Anyway, the fish people had to nix the Waltham location and so they tacked me onto the one already underway at Codman Farm, which was met with furious clapping on my part since that meant I could now combine my fish shopping with my bacon shopping. Now I’m just working on the timing of getting to the late afternoon pickup, bringing the fish home, filleting it, and getting dinner on the table before bedtime. Not easy, but the fish is great.
I like the idea of a CSF for many reasons, not least of which is that I’d rather see smaller, local fishing operations, which have a stake in the condition of the regional marine environment and fish stocks, remain in business. Certainly the large corporations or whoever they are (pirates?) conducting their massive ocean-scouring operations don’t really care about dumb things like that.
As a member of a CSF, you and the local fishermen engage in a risk-sharing arrangement. If the weather is bad and conditions are dangerous, they don’t go out. They catch what is running that day instead of chasing down whatever is going to fetch the highest price. Having customers signed up guarantees a market. In return, you the customer get the freshest possible fish for a very good price and the knowledge that you’re supporting the local economy and an industry that has been historically important in this part of the country for centuries. Have you noticed how hard it is to get local fish around here? Surrounded as we are by ocean? Frankly, it makes no sense.
I’m two weeks into my share. So far, so good. I cook some, and put some in the freezer for the winter. Has anyone else joined? And what do you think?