To CSA or Not to CSA…

The concept of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) was relatively unknown to me until the last couple of years. And even then, it seemed like something unlikely to be available in our area. Imagine my surprise when I found out there are actually a couple of CSA farms that deliver in my town-one even delivers to my workplace. I was intrigued! So, when our wellness program at work hosted a “Meet the Farmers” type lunch to allow two local CSA farmers to explain their businesses, I quickly signed up. Plus, you got free lunch. Can’t beat that.

Simply put, a CSA works like this. You, the customer, pay the farmer a fee upfront for a portion of his or her crops for the year. They deliver the food in a weekly box. You eat it. Everyone wins. Still, the farmers were both quick to point out, a CSA is not for everyone. As I mulled it over, here were some factors that influenced my decision making:

Pros:
-It’s just a good thing all the way around. You’re helping a local farmer by buying his/her products and funding him/her upfront to help with farm expenses. You’re getting freshly picked produce that’s organically grown (at least both of the farms who presented are USDA Organic Certified), and that hasn’t traveled hundreds of miles to get to you.
-It’s a chance to try new things. I’m guilty of not being too adventuresome when it comes to vegetables. With a CSA box, you can break out of your comfort zone and try new foods. Kohlrabi anyone?
-My baby boy is just starting to eat solid foods and I make his baby food myself using organic produce. How convinient it would be to have that food delivered to me and to be able to experiment with new foods with him.

Cons:
-It ain’t cheap. You’re looking at a couple of hundred bucks up front to participate. Of course, the CSA season is long: 16 to 22 weeks depending on your farmer. Spread out over the season, the price isn’t that bad. But it still can be a little off putting.
-The pressure is on to cook. The farmers were very clear: If you do not like to cook or do not have time to cook, this is not for you. The veggies keep coming whether you use them or not.
-You are at the mercy of the season and Mother Nature. You don’t pick what comes in your box. You take what they give you depending on what’s available.

After thinking it over and talking it through with my husband, I decided to join up. I’m pretty excited about it to be honest. I look at it as an adventure, a challenge to try new recipes and eat healthier. I also feel like it’s a good thing to do for my little boy. I admit that I’m a little worried that I’ll get over run with cucumbers or that more will end up in my compost bin than my belly. But I want to at least try.

The first box will arrive in May. I’ll be posting my veggie tales here: both good and bad. I’m already pinning recipes to my CSA board on Pinterest.

Have you ever participated in a CSA? Any suggestions?

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