To CSA or Not to CSA…

Have you ever tried a CSA?  You may not even know what a CSA is.  I’ve always wanted to try one and this year, I got my chance!  A CSA is a community-supported agriculture.  Basically, it’s buying straight from your local farmer.  Depending on the CSA, you get a selection of produce that’s grown on the farm each week (or every other week) and the best part is that it’s all fresh.

So how do you decide if joining a CSA is right for you?  If you have been trying to get more fresh produce in your diet, you have a couple of options – shop at the local market, you could grow your own or you could join a CSA.

  • Option 1 is probably the easiest, but to me, it’s the most complicated.  If you’re looking for fresh produce, and I mean really fresh with no pesticides or GMOs, you may not necessarily know where the food is grown or how the vendors treat their farms.  You can research the vendors, but that could take time.  And you don’t necessarily know how long the food has sat on the shelves.
  • Option 2 is to grow your own veggies.  Now if you’re anything like me, you aspire to be a gardener or farmer, but don’t necessarily have the time, the patience or the green thumb.  Growing your own food can definitely take a lot of work.  Currently, I have seeds sitting on my dining room table and at this point, it’s too late in the season to plant them.  I’ll be holding them until next year, for sure.
  • Option 3 is to join the CSA.  Many communities have them now and a quick internet search will help you find one near you.  Once you join one, you have access to many varieties of produce that may be new to you, and the farmer is on-hand to help you learn how to use them.  Even pick up is an easy process and can be much less stressful than going to the market.

Now that you know your options, maybe you’re leaning on joining the CSA.  This year, I was able to join a CSA and was so excited Friday when I picked up my share.  Here’s what I got:

  • Lettuce Head
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Scallions
  • Asian Greens
  • Parsley
  • Young Chinese Cabbage
  • Strawberries
  • Basil
  • Choi

I was sooooo excited!  The most exciting thing to me, was the bok choi.  Although we have’t had it in awhile, bok choi made with coconut milk and caramelized onions is one of our favorite dishes!  That’s one thing that will be on the menu this week.  Friday’s dinner will be homemade pizza with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil.  Mmmmm, sounds good, right?

But what if you don’t know what to do with some of the items?  It’s ok, the CSA typically will have recipes that can be shared and ideas for how to try the produce.   The CSA I participated in this year even has a Facebook page where other members share the recipes they’re making.  The most fun part is the experimentation with the foods you’re getting.

I’ve already received the newsletter for Week 2 at my CSA and I’m even more excited for what’s to come.  If you’re still unsure about trying a CSA, research your local farms and get an idea of what they grow, how they grow their produce and what the logistics would be.  I don’t think you’ll regret it.