Four summers ago I picked up Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and after I read it, I was forever changed. In this part memoir, part narrative, she shares the journey she and her family went on when they decided to pick up and leave the industrial food pipeline in Arizona to move to a more rural life in the southern Appalachians. They vowed for a year they would live only on what their land and the neighboring towns around them were producing or live without it. Between their sustainable lifestyle, farming their own food, eating only what was in season and sourcing local cheeses, milk and artisan goods, I not only drooled a lot while I read, but was also inspired. This book proved to be a resource and a wealth of information as I was now privy to the term CSA also known as Community Supported Agriculture. The following summer after much research and conversation, I joined one of my own and the experience was life changing.
What is a CSA? A CSA is a way for consumers, like you and me, to buy produce directly from a local farmer. When you join a CSA you purchase a share before the growing season commences and depending on what you purchase, you will receive your share weekly or bi-monthly.
Here are 11 reasons why you should consider joining a CSA.
1.Food doesn’t get any fresher than this. When you join a CSA you will receive produce that has been harvested within 2 days of your pick up. Fresh is better. No doubt.
2.You can literally get to know Your farmer. Since we live in such a techy world now, farmers are able yo keep in touch with their shareholders via the internet. They will share such things as what crops are flourishing and tidbits about weeding and how weather has affective progress in the field. Love that!
3. You will absolutely try a vegetable or fruit you have never had before. CSA shares are diverse in what they produce. My CSA introduced my family to things like kohlrabi, daikon radishes and a handful of other unfamiliar items. So fun!
4.You know exactly where your food comes from. When you invest in a CSA you are making a choice to buy your food from the farm of your choosing. You know their farming practices. Heck, you could even volunteer for a day and literally work on the field your food is being farmed on. #KnowledgeIsPower
5.Let the season decide what you are going to eat. CSA living means you are literally eating food grown and plucked during their natural growing season depending on where you live. In a nutshell, you will be eating a lot of lettuce in the spring and come fall, squash of all shapes and sizes. This aspect of CSA life was something that took a little getting used to,
6.local produce is affordable. Contrary to what people think, locally grown produce is not going to break the bank. A full share/weekly delivery can range anywhere from $35.00-$40.00. In my opinion, there is nothing more important than the food you put in you mouth. Money well spent.
7.Not all CSA’s are organic…and that is ok. Do your research when you decide to hop on the CSA train. In order to get an organic certification there are lots of rules, regulations and cost involved. For example, some CSAs practice organic farming but the farmer down the road may spray their crops. unfortunately, that disqualifies the neighboring farmer from acquiring their organic certification. Do your research, there are amazing farms, with organic practices, just without the label.
8.I know where the phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” came from. When a certain growing season yields a TON of any particular veggie, you may find you can’t possibly eat all of the carrots you just received in your share. “shut up and can it.” You can preserve summer’s bounty by canning or freezing an extra. That way when winter comes you can still enjoy the flavors of summer.
9.When you support your local farmer you are leaving your green foot print. It takes an enormous amount of resources to transport and refrigerate produce traveling long distance. Buy a share from a CSA near you and you just made one change that will better this amazing planet. #SaveTheEarth
10. CSA’s are everywhere. Use this link to search a CSA near you.
11. Produce does not get delivered clean. Get your veggie wash out! You are going to be dealing with dirty veggies and sometimes bugs. Ugh. Least favorite part.
11.The Bonus Round! Some CSA’s offer custom menus/recipes that coincide with what will be appearing in your share for the week. This is an incredible tool and one that will surely ease you into your first CSA experience. Talk about taking the pressure off you and your meal planning.
So there you have it. Lot’s of great stuff about supporting the local farmer and CSA’s. And if you find you aren’t quite ready to make the jump, go visit your local farmer’s market. Heck, maybe I will see you there! Eat fresh! Support Local!
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