Should You Join a CSA?

CSA-- Community Supported Agriculture

Disclaimer: My experience is based on an organic CSA. 

The Basics

In a CSA, you basically buy a share of the farmers produce.  Once a week you go pick up your share.  Typically, unlike the supermarket, you get what you get.  Whatever is in season and is harvested during that week is what will be included in your bundle of produce.  

The Negatives

Washing:  There is a lot of washing involved and it can be a little time consuming.  At least for me it is.  You always want to wash your produce even if you get it at the supermarket, but produce from your CSA comes straight from the ground so expect to find a lot of dirt and little creatures in your produce!  All the leafy veggies are the most difficult for me.  Although I do not mind a little dirt, there is nothing more terrifying for me than to find a little friend in my salad. Therefore,  I rinse, and rinse, and rinse again.

Careful Planning:   To make the most of your CSA, you want to make sure that you use all of the produce you get so there is a lot time and thought that goes into planning the meals for the week.  It is not like going to the supermarket, buying a bag of frozen spinach and keeping in the freezer in case you might need it.  With the CSA, you may get more spinach than you can possibly eat during the week so you have to bag and freeze your own (or learn how to can), and plan meals for the week accordingly.  Again, it just takes up a lot of time.


The Positives

Good For the Environment: Your produce is grown locally so you are not eating cucumbers that come from 2000 miles away.  It reduces the carbon footprint!

You Eat Healthier:  My family ate a lot of vegetables before joining the CSA, but we are eating even more now. You will find that you will plan meals around the vegetable instead of a vegetable around a piece of meat or pasta.  The result, you are eating more veggies and less of the other stuff. 

Great Family Activity:  My CSA allows us to pick some of our own produce.  Last week my girls and I picked strawberries and green beans.  The 3-month old slept the whole time but my 5-year old had a blast.  It was also a great lesson for her of where our food comes from.  Later on that day she enjoyed a parfait made with the strawberries we picked!

Increase Your Vegetable Palate:  There were a lot of vegetables at the grocery store that I would see and would have no idea what to do with them.  Well, with a CSA you might get vegetables you have never seen or heard of, but you have no choice but to learn about them.  Who knew that Swiss Chard and Garlic Scapes would become part of our regular diet!

It's Cheaper:  I don't know if this is true of all CSA's but at least for me, it is a lot cheaper getting my share of organic veggies from the CSA than buying them at the grocery store.  I did the math.  I am getting about $60 worth of veggies for about $15 a week. It may be different for conventional, but for those of you that buy organic, you know how expensive that can get. 

It Tastes Better:  There is no doubt that these veggies taste so much better.  The spinach is amazing.  Even my hubby, a meat and potatoes type of guy, gets excited about the vegetables.  There is just so much more flavor than the grocery bought food.

You Learn A Lot:  Because I get a lot of stuff I usually do not cook with, I am learning how to cook differently and how to use the produce and herbs to their full potential.  Who knew that catnip was a great ingredient for home-made bug repellents?

Overall, I love the CSA.  I am so glad we joined.  It does get a little busier the days the food comes in because I have to bag, wash, freeze, but it is worth it for my family's health!

If you want to find a CSA near  you go tto Local Harvest.  If you leave in the greater Philly area or Western NJ, here is the link to Honey Brook Organic Farm.

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