Before I really dive into this particular blog post, I should preface by saying that I love food. I mean, I love food. Unfortunately, my lifestyle and schedule at this moment of my life doesn't allow me to fully indulge my Epicurean curiosities, so I try to take the opportunity to cook something delicious whenever I can. While the fact that my lifestyle makes me very aware of the lack of produce in my life, I happened to fall upon a blog where it's author was praising the fact that they'd recently joined a CSA. Accompanying the post were photos of luscious vegetables and leafy dark green vegetables; the carrots looked like they had just been pulled from the ground. Naturally, the question that followed was, "what is a CSA?" So I did some (Google) research and found something extraordinary!
CSA stands for Community-Supported, or Community-Shared Agriculture. It's essentially a network connecting local farmers to people who want fresh, homegrown vegetables and produce. The farmers deliver it to your doorstep weekly! It's often colloquially called "subscription farming". You can buy a "subscription" from a local farmer, similar to how you would subscribe to a magazine, and they deliver a box full of fresh picked produce. Oftentimes, some farmers include the option to have milk and eggs delivered alongside your fruits and veggies. What better way to get your produce with a busy lifestyle than having it delivered to you?? I had no idea this kind of thing existed, and I love it! Well, that is, the idea of it!
Joining a CSA is a wonderful way to support your local markets during the farming season, depending on where you live. It supports the local farmers and creates a community where your foods revolve around the season, just like it used to. The usual shopper in year-round grocery stores have no real concept of how different produce tastes when it's harvested straight from the garden, in season. Sure, you can buy tomatoes in January-but who wants to eat cardboard
tomatoes? That pathetic tomato was picked green 2000 miles away and weeks
ago, then blasted with "ethylene gas to make it turn red just before it
landed in the produce section of your store," according to FarmDirect.com. Typically, members or "share-holders" of the farm or garden pledge in
advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and
farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty
throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from
reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with
payments in advance, growers receive better prices for their
crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the
burden of marketing. It's a fantastic way to support local farms and business while at the same time enriching your nutritional intake!
I really like the sound of this system. I think, come the end of Spring, I'm going to search around for some local markets who participate in CSA. There's nothing more satisfying that a ripe August tomato drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with (fresh) basil!
If you want to find out local markets who participate in CSA, check out some of these resources!
Organizations and Web Sites
To find a CSA market, search here. You can search by zip code or by state.
You know you want to!