Last week on the blog we talked all about organic food. What they are, why it matters, and how and what to prioritize when buying organic. Check out that blog post here. That was a great segway for this weeks episode which is about community supported agriculture or CSA. Have you ever heard this term before? To be honest, I hadn’t heard of it until I was introduced to it during my nutritional therapy program. So today I wanted to share with you what a CSA is, why I love the idea of them and how you can go about finding one near you!
A CSA or community supported agriculture is essentially you partnering with a local farm and purchasing a share of farm-fresh produce. You will in turn receive just-picked seasonal produce on a regular basis. Typically your share is conveniently picked, boxed up and delivered to a location near you or in some cases right to your doorstep. Usually you can pick from weekly or bi-weekly options to suit the needs of your family and also there are typically options on the amount that you are receiving in hopes that you aren’t getting more than you need. Another neat aspect is that a-lot of times these farmers also can provide things like farm fresh eggs, meat, honey and other goods with your box. Many CSA’s also include a newsletter giving you info about your box for the week and even some recipes to utilize the foods that you are receiving. The cost of the CSA will obviously vary by how often you want your share, how big of a share you are looking for, any add-ons, and your location. Oftentimes you can choose from multiple payment options including monthly or a one time payment.
Like I said, I wasn’t familiar with this service until this year so this is actually my first year participating in one! I already have purchased our share which is delivered weekly to a nearby pickup location and even was able to add on eggs! Our CSA runs from May until October but every one likely has slightly different seasons depending on their environment and produce (I live in the midwest).
So here's what I love about CSA’s.
Variety, variety, variety!! This is honestly my favorite aspect about the CSA. We are receiving a box of produce that maybe we wouldn't tend to choose at the grocery store. In todays society we are eating such a limited variety of foods that it is causing us to miss many essential nutrients that are needed to truly be healthy and thrive. It encourages us to eat more variety and choose new things. Yes this may be a little challenging, but make it a game, explore different recipes and ways to use the produce!
It encourages us to eat what is in season. We were made to eat what was able to be grown during that season and this is how our ancestors ate as well.
They are so convenient. How nice that I don’t have to go to the grocery store for my produce or eggs and can pick them up from a location that is right by our house!
It helps us to choose organic produce.
It is cost effective.
They are freshly picked. Did you know that the sooner you eat the produce from time of picking the more nutrients you are getting? Yep, it's true. As produce sits on the shelf, is shipped across the country or even overseas, it is losing its nutrients. So that broccoli from the grocery store that you thought was providing your child with tons of beneficial vitamins really has minimal left.
We are supporting local agriculture. Our small local farmers are struggling. This is a great way to help keep them in business!
We are forming a relationship with these farmers and are able to know exactly where our food is coming from.
Many times you can go visit the farm which is a really fun experience for kids! I cant wait to visit the farm this summer.
It places an emphasis on real nutrient dense foods in our diets.
Now that we talked all about why I love CSA’s and what they are, let’s talk about finding one! One of the easiest ways is to use a website to find a local CSA for you. Local Harvest and Fairshare CSA coalition are two websites that you can use. There are many other ones out there as well. Another way is to utilize local resources to discover a CSA–local health food stores and markets likely have a list or recommendations for CSA’s near you. Additionally, check out the local farmers markets or their websites, they likely have a list of vendors, many of which are likely farms that participate in CSA’s.
If this is something that interests you, then I definitely would check into it now because the harvest is coming and you don't want to miss out! I would love it if you let me know if you sign up for a CSA for your family. And don't forget, if you know someone that might find this info beneficial go ahead and pass it along!
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