Veggies Delivered Weekly to Your Door: CSA’s
Veggies Delivered Weekly to Your Door: CSA’s
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)
August 15, 2009
Every week I ride my bike to a yoga studio to get my basket of organic produce from a local CSA (Community Share Agriculture). When I ride up to get my produce, I meet the farmers and others picking up their weekly baskets. When I walk into my kitchen, hungry, I see round cucumbers, fresh carrots, basil, tomatoes, etc. I find I eat more vegetables, and eat a healthier diet when I have a selection of vegetables and herbs, on hand, as I do with the CSA participation. As a matter of fact, I dread having to ever go back to store produce again. The freshness, the variety, the ease of just picking up a basket ready to go makes CSA programs a wonderful new alternative. You feel good because you are directly supporting local organic farmers, with no middle man whatsoever, and your family and health benefit, as well!
What is a CSA? A CSA is a program where consumers buy “shares” in a local farm and they are given, in return, deliveries of assorted seasonal produce grown on said farm, in timely increments, most commonly weekly. Instead of large commercial farms which use chemical pesticides, or farms far away that truck in produce, thereby reducing its freshness, CSA’s give one access to eco-friendly, “green” alternatives, fresh from the farmer to the consumer. It is a wonderful system whose simplicity perhaps seems impossible in this day and age, but no, it is possible to live that simply, still!
One of the things I like about being in a CSA is I get exposed to new types of produce that I would not normally buy. I am learning how to eat things like purslaine and fennel bulbs. I am eating new varieties of vegetables, such as finger potatoes, purple tomatoes, round cucumbers, and am enjoying a beautiful symphony of shapes in my carrots. Every week I have new herbs, such as sage, cilantro and basil to incorporate into my weekly fare. I also like that I am eating my produce in season now too. Stores leave you out of touch with the local growing seasons often, due to imported produce. My CSA has parties and potlucks and farm work parties, also, so CSA’s can have a social aspect as well. It can be a way to meet other health-conscious neighbors, as well as your local farmers.
I paid $275 for about 15 weeks of produce with my current CSA program. I find I buy very little at the store now that I have these baskets of produce in my house weekly. A typical weekly basket includes a bunch of carrots, a bunch of beets, some kale, some cucumbers, some tomatoes, some lettuce, some zucchini, some herbs, some onions, potatoes, and more. These things enable me to make salads, sandwiches, casseroles, and soups, and give me quick raw food snacks on hand as well.
Wikipedia says that the history of CSA’s is rooted in Japan, Germany and Switzerland, in the 1960’s, when they were developed due to questions about the quality of mass-produced agriculture and food safety issues. Wikipedia says that CSA’s were brought to the U.S. in 1984 and says that now there are anywhere from 1300 – 3000 CSA’s in the U.S. currently.
There is a shared risk in being in a CSA program. If the farm crops fail, your CSA investment is gone. Which is why, really, to be successful, I think CSA’s require a prepayment of several months in advance. If you sell the baskets weekly, there is so little shared risk and I think part of the consumers’ part in this also means we need to share the down times with farmers. I am willing to accept smaller CSA baskets if, indeed, the farmer meets with unfortunate circumstances. I think by this type of community support, we can sustain local organic farmers, while sustaining our families with the highest quality food.
Although my CSA operates in Ventura, CA and the organic farm is in Ojai, CA, you can find a selection of organic farms participating in CSA programs in Seattle, New York, L.A., Portland, and more, at http://www.ecovian.com/s/seattle/csa-food-delivery. I highly suggest getting involved with a CSA near you. Before you know it, you will not know how you lived without it.
More CSA articles and resources:
http://newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org/features/0104/csa-history... - Community Farms in the 21st Century: Poised for Another Wave of Growth?
http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csaorgs.shtml - USDept of Agriculture Organizations and Websites Related to Community Support Agriculture