Kohlrabi, rutabaga, celeriac root, fennel, stinging nettle, edible flowers. All these items have one thing in common, and that is I've tried them for the first time through my CSA share. Okay, maybe not the stinging nettle I was to afraid to make tea out of it. It turns out that everything else was delicious!
Before I tell you what a CSA share is, I'd like to tell you what it's not. You will not receive the same produce every week for all 18 weeks. You will not receive tomatoes in June and Strawberries in September. The vegetables will not be perfectly shaped and not always free of dirt and bugs. It does not come pre packaged and sliced for your connivence. You will not receive any baby carrots.
Now let me tell you what you can expect out of a CSA share. You will receive weekly box of produce that is either certified organic or grown with organic practices. The produce you receive was likely picked the day before or even that morning. You will recognize most produce but some will be new to try (see first sentence). Your money will go back into the community by supporting a local farmer. You will get a lot of green beans!
If any of that sounds absolutely horrible and you know you cannot change your ways, maybe start with a trip to the farmers market instead. But if I have spiked some interest please read on. Here is a short list of reasons why I support CSA's and why I think you should to.
- Supporting local food systems and farmers who then give back to the community.
- Connivence! You pick up your box and thats what you are making for dinner.
- Making friends with a farmer. You never know when that might come in handy.
- Saving the environment! Organic farming methods use no pesticides and practice crop rotations creating a healthier soil.
- Organic produce is better for your body and better for the environment.
I hope by this point I have given you enough reasons to be brave an join a CSA. If not, please send me an email and we can talk about it more. Now I would like to talk about how to choose a CSA. Everyone will choose their CSA based on thier needs. The factors that matter most to me are the following:
- Pick up location. For me, the pick up location is the first thing I look at when choosing a CSA. It must be convenient to my house or work.
- Size of share and frequency of share. Most CSA's offer a half share and full share. The half feeds a family of 4 or 2 vegetarians. The full feeds a family of 6 or 4 vegetarians. Some farms offer biweekly deliveries of either a half or full share.
- Total number of weeks. Most run 18 to 22 weeks. Some even have 4 week spring shares. If you read some of my previous posts, you know that they offer fall shares as well.
- Price. This will vary quite a bit. On average I paid $28-$38 a week. Which really is not much if you compare to the produce you buy at the grocery store.
- Add on's. These can be really fun and unique. The most common add on is eggs. But I am starting to see more and more options like honey, bread, and mushrooms!