Thinking about joining a CSA program? Gina from Simply Life helps weigh the pros and cons.
Two years ago my husband and I joined our first CSA (community supported agriculture) program. We wavered about joining one for several years, but I’m so glad we finally decided to commit! In the last two years, I have learned a lot about various foods, farming and eating locally. We are currently in the midst of our second year of having a CSA share, and from my personal experience, here is my list of CSA pros and cons:
1 ) I have tried SO many new foods! I have brought home a lot of new food items that I have never heard of, like kohlrabi, various types of squash and bok choy. Having these foods in my refrigerator has forced me to try them, and learn new recipes. I have discovered so many new foods and flavors that I really enjoy.
2) I have learned many new recipes. While I may have been familiar with zucchini and tomatoes before I joined a CSA, I definitely wasn’t familiar with figuring out how to use 10 zucchini and 15 tomatoes in one week! Having an abundance of certain items has really pushed my creativity in the kitchen, and has encouraged me to try new recipes that I otherwise would not have attempted.
3) I have learned so much about food in general (what season certain crops are grown in, at what temperature, etc.) Chilly spring weather? Scallions, cilantro and bok choy. The heat of summer? Cucumbers, basil and zucchini. Every week, we receive an email from the farm telling us what to expect, and how certain weather conditions have affected our crops. This has really helped me to understand the impact environment has on the foods we eat.
4) We have been able to eat fresh, local, organic foods…and save money while doing it! There is definitely a difference in flavor when you bite into a tomato that was just picked yesterday, versus one that was picked days ago and shipped internationally to your town. I have felt spoiled these past two years, enjoying such high-quality foods, but have learned they actually cost less than the same product in the grocery store that may have been shipped from overseas!
5) Pick-your-own days at the farm! Our CSA program offers the opportunity to pick your own items at the farm. In June, we picked strawberries and fresh herbs, and more recently, we were able to pick our own tomatoes. It’s so much fun to actually SEE where your food is growing, and meet the farmers!
1) We still end up paying for CSA shares on weeks when we can’t pick them up. After paying a one-time fee for the entire CSA, each week is then paid for, whether or not the box has been picked up. There have been several weeks we have been out of town and unable to pick-up our share. We have always given it to a grateful friend, but it is still a bummer to pay for food you can’t enjoy.
2) There are just some foods I couldn’t eat anymore of. I really gave a good effort in eating everything we received, however there are just some foods I don’t get very excited about eating (or preparing). Thankfully this year our CSA was set up like a farmers’ market and we had the ability to hand pick the items before bringing them home, so when something like beets were in abundance, I would skip taking our full share.
3) It makes planning meals a bit more challenging. Both years our “pick-up day” has been Thursday. I enjoy that it’s right before the weekend, so I know what we’ll have before our usual Saturday shopping trip and can plan meals, but it’s still a challenge to plan meals based on items that you haven’t necessarily chosen.
Overall, if you are considering joining a CSA, I would HIGHLY recommend it! In my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons. To get started I would encourage you to start researching the different options available near you. Remember to take into consideration cost, pick-up times and locations, the variety of foods available and how many weeks, if any, you may be out of town. We have loved being a part of a CSA program these past two years and definitely plan to continue in the future!
Blog post by Gina from the Simple Life. Life is best shared around the kitchen table. So take a seat, grab a glass of wine and stay a while. Welcome to Simply Life, musings of a Boston-based blogger.