Sunday, April 6, 2008

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

A couple of months ago David and I joined a CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, every week we go to a nearby pick-up location and pick up a big box with our name on it, containing 12-14 different kinds of fruits and vegetables (all organic and locally grown when possible). We love it!!

We have been eating so much healthier now because of all the fresh produce we've been getting. And you definitely notice a difference between certain veggies that are grown organically and ones that are not. I sent David to the store to buy green bell peppers the other day because we ran out, and he was rather grossed out by the thick coat of wax covering all of them. It's something that we never noticed before, but now that we've had fresh from the ground stuff it's easy to see a difference. Plus, we've gotten to try things that we've never eaten before and that I would probably never think of to sunchokes (a little like a water chesnut and yummy in salads or omlettes) and rainbow chard. As the summer gets closer, I'm excited at the thought of all the yummy fresh fruit that will be coming our way!

My biggest reason for wanting to join a CSA is because I really want to support local organic farms. I think it's pretty silly that in our culture that we often go to the store and buy items that have traveled 10,000+ miles to get to us, when we could buy the same item and have it come from a local farm where it only traveled 30 miles to get to us. By buying fruits and veggies that are locally grown we save resources and also wind up getting fresher produce in the process! I will say, that it is a much harder task to buy only local produce items in the winter and spring months. Our CSA is one of the few that even operates outside of the summer season. They get by by having partnerships with other organic farms throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. But, they always try to buy as local as possible while still maintaining quality (which is obviously much easier done in the summer and fall).

Some info on how to find and pick a CSA:
There are so many CSA's popping up everywhere, that it was very hard for me to choose one. I went to the Local Harvest website and spent several days weighing the pros and cons of each CSA. I wound up choosing Full Circle Farm. It is probably one of the biggest CSA's around, which comes with pluses and minuses. A huge plus for me is that each Friday we are e-mailed the list of what items will be in our box the next week, and I can then make up to 5 substitutions from a "substitution list." This is incredibly convenient, because then we don't wind up getting brussel sprouts or asparagus (which David and I both hate) and have it go to waste. Full Circle Farm also operates all year round, which most CSA's dont. Most of the smaller CSA's have a set "growing season" (often 12-16 weeks during the summer/early fall), and often you have to buy what they call a "share" ahead of time, usually in early spring (we pay weekly since ours is year-round). This share entitles you to pick up a box of produce each week during the growing season. A lot of the smaller CSA's also have u-pick flowers, herbs, and oftentimes, berries...which is something I had to sacrifice by going with a larger CSA. I've thought about switching to a different CSA for the summer, because I looove the idea of getting to visit a farm and do the u-pick stuff, but I would miss the ability to do substitutions an awful lot. So we'll probably stick with the one we have for this summer. Anyway, if anyone has ever thought about joining a CSA, I would highly recommend it! There are so many options out there, that you can really choose the one that's right for you and your family.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a pretty cool thing and healthy, too! You never know, maybe you might actually like the really fresh brussels sprouts and asparagus!!
Mom O