The basic idea is that you purchase a "share" of food that comes from a local (distance varies) farmer or rancher and receive your piece of that share each week. I like CSAs because you have an opportunity to support your local community and you have a closer connection to where your food is coming from.
So how do you know if a CSA is for you? Here are some tips and personal thoughts to consider if you are interested in joining a CSA:
- Find what CSAs are offered in your area. Local Harvest is a great resource for finding them. - Consider pick-up location or delivery options. You don't want to feel burdened by a trip to go pick up your CSA share. Many offer pick-ups at farmers' markets or grocery stores. Some might even offer to deliver to your home for an additional charge. Think of where you normally shop or is near your home and go from there.
- Don't expect a CSA to be less expensive than a trip to the grocery store. Yes, some may be, but some may not necessarily (from my experience). Consider if the produce is organic or not, or if it is heirloom, or if meat is grass fed . . . all these things can affect the price. Just remember it is the quality of the items you are receiving and confidence in the farmers who produced it. I have noticed that often times it would be difficult the purchase an equal amount of organic food from a grocery store, so for us, a CSA is worth the price because even though the food may not be certified organic, it is often grown with organic principles and of the same quality.
- Think about how you eat. Are you a vegetarian? Paleo? Gluten-free? Different CSAs offer more than just vegetables (meat, staples, etc.), so be sure to find one that meets your dietary needs. - If you are out-of-town a lot or don't cook often a CSA is probably not for you. Most if not all of the items you receive are perishable, and you don't want to waste all that food.
In case you missed some of my recipes from the CSA I participated in, here are some links to the 12 that I shared as a part of this series:
Arugula Salad with Basil Vinaigrette Roasted Sunchokes Pecan Crusted Trout Sorghum Glazed Carrots Mini Asparagus and Sausage Frittatas Pesto Pasta with Asparagus Slow Cooker Baked Black Beans Strawberry Balsamic Poppyseed Salad Garlicky Lemon Roasted Broccoli Black Eyed Pea Saute Spanish Onion Garlic Torta Fresh Green Bean and Tomato Salad
Have you ever been a part of a CSA? Tell me about your experience!