I know I’m always talking about the CSA we joined this summer whenever I post a recipe on Monday. And I realize many of you either might not know what a CSA is or if you do know, don’t realize why CSAs are incredibly awesome. I’m here to tell you why CSAs are fantastic in every way known to man.
First, what exactly is a CSA? CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture. Traditionally, when you become a member of a CSA, you’re buying a “share” of produce from a local farmer. The “CSA” I’m a member of isn’t just one farmer, so it’s not technically a CSA. It’s more of a co-op, I suppose. There’s a one-time membership fee, and then we pay monthly for the season. There are several local farmers that take part in the one I’m a member of, which means as a member, I receive a variety of fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheeses — and if you opt for the “omnivore” bag, you would receive meats as well. Bacon, whole chickens, etc.
Now you know what a CSA is. Onward with why they’re amazing.
8 Reasons CSAs Are Fantastic In Every Way Known to Man
1. CSAs and farm co-ops support local economies.
Yes, that’s right. Instead of buying produce and funneling money to a far away state (or country!), your hard-earned dollars go right back to the farmer down the road. This means you’re supporting local farms and enabling them to continue with their livelihood. This additional income will allow them to purchase essential equipment, like these John Deere Tractors for Sale, to ensure they’re able to partake in the work that they are required to do. Without this equipment, many farmers would find themselves very behind in their work. In some cases, essential farming equipment and materials can break down or become obsolete, that is why putting money back into farms can help them keep thriving in all climates, so they can invest in steel buildings Iowa, as an example, to keep their crop growing and safe during the harsher months, as well as keep their tractors, etc. inside.
2. Eating locally sourced produce is good for your health.
There’s a reason the fruits and vegetables native to your region are there… Where we choose to live and the food available to us in that region is vital to our health. Case in point — we all know that to stave off allergies, it’s best to ingest locally sourced honey, yes? This is because the bees in your area are feeding off of the pollen also in your area. Make sense? Similarly, if your soil is known to produce some of the best kale in the country, you better believe your body is probably best served eating that kale for the very same reasons as the bee/honey/allergen rationale. Not forgetting that it is very likely that farmers and people like them have considered looking at these grow room designs to achieve maximum goodness amongst their crops and plants, ensuring you have access to only the best products.
3. Reduce the impact of farming on places that are struggling (California, anyone?).
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, California was a desert. One day, some men in the high and mighty desert had a brilliant idea to transform this naturally arid environment to one with lush, rolling pastures, and bountiful farmland. Well, kids. Time is up on that fairytale. The water is long gone from California, and the state is struggling to keep it’s head above
water sand. Let’s do them a favor, cut them some slack, and make Californians feel somewhat less responsible for feeding the entire country, shall we? Eat the stuff that’s available within 50 miles of your house and your environmental impact will be much less substantial.
And while I understand that may indeed hurt the California economy, won’t having no water and being bone dry hurt it even more? Just sayin’…
4. CSAs nurture adventurous eating.
Before joining our farm share, I had never heard of things like kohlrabi, or cone cabbage, or candy onions. I had never tried a beet, and I thought fennel was just a seed, not an actual vegetable! Ah, the CSA has opened my eyes, my pretties! It’s an amazing adventure to try something new. Some things have become staples in our menu rotation — and other things, notsomuch. But it has allowed us to try some pretty amazing things and travel a delicious adventure.
5. Having fresh produce on-hand cultivates a healthy lifestyle.
Fresh produce is so easy to eat! Because frankly, you’ll feel guilty letting it spoil and go to waste! Every apricot, each blueberry, every leaf of collards is nourishment waiting to be devoured. Having fresh fruits and vegetables on the countertop and in the crisper makes it so much easier to eat healthy and stay healthy.
6. Less expensive than traditional grocery.
Dollar for dollar, joining a CSA is overall less expensive than buying produce at a grocery store. Plus, it’s also higher quality since it’s sourced locally. With much less distance to travel, the possibilities of bruising, breaking, or becoming otherwise questionable, is diminished. CSA farms grow food in ways that are sustainable and healthy for our environment. It’s a win-win.
7. More convenient than the farmer’s market.
Some naysayers will opt for the traditional farmer’s market in the warmer months. This is just personal preference, because a lot of the time the fruits, veggies, artisan cheeses and yogurts all come from the same places. The difference for me is that the share is much more convenient. And there’s no guesswork. For the CSA I’m a part of, we get an email each week stating what will be in each bag. Then I make my menu and grocery list around what I know I’ll be getting in the bag. I pick up the bag, bring it home, and put away the spoils until it’s time to eat. That’s it. It’s super convenient, not at all intimidating, and I get to eat the best of the best of local food near me. It doesn’t get much better than that.
8. Most of the time, farmers participating in the farm share or farmer’s markets are organic/green farmers.
This is really important to me. I’m a big believer in eating as much organic food as possible. That’s not to say non-organic food isn’t safe. I’m not prepared to speak to that. (Although that’s another topic I’d love to tackle at a later date.) But, again personal preference, it’s important to me to feed my family organic foods, particularly produce. I know many of the smaller farms that supply the CSA I’m a member of are organic farmers. They aren’t all certified because many of them can’t support the finances or rigorous testing required by the USDA, but many of them are organic. Several of them are Amish farms. They’re all small. And the ones that supply dairy, eggs, or meats are humane. They like their animals and they want them to stay happy. They love their environment and practice responsible farming to protect future generations.
I’m going to leave you with a few words of
caution wisdom. If you’ve never signed up for a CSA before, I strongly suggest getting the smallest share possible. When you pick up your first bag or box, you will likely be very overwhelmed with the contents. Whatever you do — DO NOT PANIC! Kale, spinach, bok choy — you’ll be living on it for weeks. But then will come the peaches, apricots, blueberries, and corn. And the strawberries! Don’t forget the strawberries!! You will have an abundance of food, but once you know how to handle it, you’ll be good to go. And you’ll become a great chef to boot.
So now that you know what a CSA is and why it’s a kick-ass thing to be a part of, I urge you to find one, join it, and enjoy all the bounties of your local farming community. It’s a great adventure and super fulfilling to know you’re supporting your local economy.
Are YOU part of a CSA/farm-share/co-op? What’s your favorite part? If not, what’s holding you back??