We are taking a break today from the The Great Local Food Tour, but check out all the farms we have visited so far! On Saturday we have plans to visit my favorite farmer's market, and then we might head out to Kennett Square in search of mushrooms (I am giddy with excitement, haha. You know my love of mushrooms from this post and this one.)
Today, I thought I would talk about CSAs. I find that a lot of people don't really know what a CSA is, or they don't know the pros and cons. A lot of the farms we have been visiting operate CSAs.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, which sounds a little too general, in my opinion. When a person buys a CSA share they share in a farm's risk. The person pays in advance for a portion of the farm's total crop. If the farm does really well, the person gets a lot in their personal share, and if the farm does poorly, the person gets less. The farmer has a reliable income regardless of the weather, and in return CSA buyers pay slightly less (typically) than they would pay for that same produce at the farmers' market or grocery store. People pick their shares up at the farm, some other arranged location, or in some cases, the box of produce is delivered.
Sounds great, right? It ensures you have a steady supply of produce, it is all local, in season, and picked at peak ripeness, and the farmer has the income and support to keep doing what they do.
The past couple of summers I have thought about buying a share in a CSA- we eat enough fruit and vegetables, after all. The only thing holding me back has been variety and what to do with the things that are not my favorite foods, really. One farm might grow A LOT of bok choy and asparagus, but no lettuce, spinach, or strawberries. While I eat a great variety, and I will turn no vegetable or fruit away, I do have mainstays. I have different greens in my smoothie every morning, but spinach is definitely my favorite. I try to eat a salad every single day, if not twice a day- I don't mind dandelion greens, red leaf lettuce or arugula in that application, but romaine and butter lettuce are my favorites. If a farm does not grow those particular things, adaptation would be necessary.
That might not be a bad thing, though. I have lately been making more of an effort to eat seasonally and locally, but there is still room for improvement. We have been loving peaches and blueberries that we picked ourselves from a local farm, but I have also been enjoying grapefruit and oranges grown in Florida and California.
Also, a share would force me to explore using vegetables I don't typically eat often. Until recently I had not cooked bok choy or kohlrabi, for example. A whole box of such choices would have me searching for or coming up with new and different recipes. Necessity is the mother of invention.
So it didn't happen this year, but maybe next summer we will buy a CSA share. I am thinking to add variety, we will buy a share (or half share) from two different farms. With that, along with a garden I hope to grow myself, we will (hopefully) cut down on the grocery store bill, support local farmers even more than we already do, and improve our nutrition and health.
What are your thoughts on CSAs? Do you have a share?