I love farm markets. There’s something really cool about walking down the rows of tents, looking at the variety of fresh produce and edibles on sale. Choosing between the peaches from one stand or the strawberries from another is a great conundrum to have. But farm markets can sometimes be overwhelming – the lines can be long, there’s an intimidating variety of produce to choose from, and wrestling with your neighbor over the last container of blackberries at your favorite stand is hardly dignified. So if you love farm markets but wish life was a bit… easier… try signing up for a CSA! All the benefits of a farm market, simplified!
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The basic idea is that a group of individuals pledge to support a local farm; subscribers pay at the beginning of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest. Once that harvest begins, subscribers receive weekly shares of the fruits and vegetables that they collect from a pick-up spot in their area. The contents of the shares change throughout the growing season, starting with string beans and salad greens, moving through berries, tomatoes, and peaches, and ending the season with fall squash, pumpkins, and eggplants. Some CSA shares even include items like eggs, honey, fresh cut flowers, or cuts of meat.
CSA’s are awesome for a few reasons. First, you’re buying local – meaning you’re cutting down on the miles your food travels to get to you, you’re putting money directly into your local economy, and you’re supporting a small farm. All excellent things! Second, you get to try out eating seasonally. Going to grocery stores can be deceiving – after all, you can find tomatoes year round, pineapples far from the tropics, and ‘spring greens’ well into the winter. By relying on a CSA for your produce, you’re forced to venture outside of your comfort zone. Get ready to cook with produce you normally don’t even think about – kohlrabi, anyone? But that leads me to the third awesome thing about CSAs – you get to experiment with so many more recipes! Figuring out how to use your produce (in more than just salad) can be a fun experience for you and your family. You can use fun apps like Ratio (also available on Android) or sites like SuperCook which let you search by ingredients and create recipes based off what you have on hand. SuperCook also let’s you search by your dietary restrictions – if you have a nut allergy, this site will be super helpful!
So how do you get in on this awesomeness? First, take a look around your local farm market and ask your favorite stands whether they offer CSA’s or weekly boxes. You can also use a site like Local Harvest, which lets you search for CSA’s and read up on their pricing, produce, and schedule. Before you sign up, be sure to think about your actual needs – letting good food go bad in your fridge is no fun. If you’re nervous about amounts, you can register for the smallest share, or try going in on a share with a friend. Most of all enjoy! You get to eat fresh food and support a small farm – how awesome is that!
To visit Susanna's website, click her byline. To read the rest of Susanna's posts on Sister Eden, click her tag at the top of the post.
Latest posts by Susanna Parker (see all)
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