CSAs: Love your local fruits and veggies!
One of my very most favorite things is a good CSA. What’s that, you ask? And why should I care?
Well, let me tell you. A CSA is a Community supported agriculture endeavor which is a popular mechanism to buy local seasonal produce directly from a farmer. We have joined these types of offers in multiple locations, and have found it almost always to be a positive experience.
You get amazingly fresh produce. It is directly from the farm to your hands. There is often less than 24 hours between picking and delivery. You cannot get fresher than that.
You minimize the transport (i.e. carbon footprint) of your food. The farther away your produce and foods come from, the less ‘green’ it is, regardless of it being organic or not.
Every delivery is a surprise. I LOVE this part. While I am trying to be better about planning meals and making grocery lists to match, I love getting a basket full of surprises and then imagining the recipes I can make to share with my family. For some, this is the hardest part.
You’re supporting typically smaller local farms that are not part of the big A agriculture in your area. They are often family-owned, and operated.
You get to know the people who are growing your food. These lovely people often run the pick-up locations, and are happy to share how their farm runs, how the food grows, and what they do to keep the farm going. They typically love what they do, and are happy to share. Oftentimes, they even have ‘Open Farm’ days, and invite out all of their CSA members to discover their farm.
CSAs help kids learn about different foods, and maybe even get them to eat foods they didn’t want to try before. Farms often share recipes, too, for their favorite ways to prepare new-to-you fruits and veggies.
You don’t have a huge say in what is included. The idea is that you get what is in season. Some CSAs might allow for options that include dairy or eggs, breads, or meat, and they often have options for sizes (e.g. couple, family, etc). For me, this is a pro (see above); for others, this is a big drawback.
Not all of your produce will come from the CSA. Most likely, you will still have to go to the grocery store for basics or specifics. And, if you’re not accustomed to eating seasonally, you may have a transition period shifting from eating whatever is available (like everything, in the grocery store) to what is in season.
You won’t always recognize everything you receive. I have had to google ‘red, shiny pear-like fruit) when getting a basket in Tanzania (cashew apple, in case you were wondering), and I hadn’t realized there were that many different kinds of onions and potatoes one could receive (from our basket in Senegal), and working hard to convince my boys that squash is not just for carving in Arlington, but part of the fun is the discovery of these new foods.
Honestly, I can’t think of any other drawbacks.
Want to find out more?
Internationally, we have always found our CSAs by asking friends upon arrival.