A fun new experience for us this summer was getting involved with a CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture (google that if you want to read a ton about it). Essentially, we paid a local farm in advance last spring, and in return, we pick up (at a convenient location) a box of freshly harvested, organic, local produce once a week.
Here’s what we got this week:
I don’t think any of that food needs explaining, but note that the onion is the size of a large grapefruit. A couple of weeks ago there was a cabbage as big as my head.
This has been great for us on many levels. Some of the “pros” include:
It’s affordable — our farm charged around $200 for their estimated 18 weeks of produce. On the whole, I think we definitely saved when compared to supermarket produce.
It supports small farms, organic farming, local farming, all of which is great for the environment and the community. You could also accomplish this by shopping at a farmer’s market, but we never seem to manage to do that on a regular basis. Paying ahead of time for this committed us for the entire season.
It encourages us to eat more veggies — we have to use them up to get our money’s worth!
In order to use them up, we have to be creative with some things we don’t typically buy — Borscht, anyone (think veggie soup, but it’s the color of raspberry jam)? Have you ever made Baba Ganoush (it’s like hummous, but with eggplant instead of garbanzo beans)? Anyone have an idea for how to use pounds and pounds of cabbage? Isn’t this fun? It’s a little like Iron Chef, “And the secret ingredient is….”
It’s fun picking up the box each week, partly because you never know what you’re going to get — Christmas for healthy grown-ups!
Our farm (which I selected online, based entirely on its low price) will give you a double share the week after your vacation, if you let them know in advance that you’re skipping a week. Some other farms have programs where you get fresh flowers (wouldn’t that be fun?), herbs, fruit, etc. I think the only negative with this concept is you occasionally get things you don’t really like, or have a hard time using up — I have at least a year’s worth of chopped up green peppers in my freezer. Still, it was 100% worth doing, and we plan on joining again next year.
If you are looking for a CSA in your area (there are at least 6, maybe more, in the Salt Lake City area), try googling “Community Supported Agriculture” and your city or state. I found multiple websites that list all of the CSAs in an area. Plan on joining in the early spring (mark your calendar for February), as some of the better ones fill up, and many offer a discount for joining early.