Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Basics

Question: What enables you to both eat healthy and be a good steward of your community? 
Answer: Buy a share membership to your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Through a CSA membership, you are buying seasonal food directly from a local farmer. In a CSA, the farmer offers a set number of "shares" to the public. A share consists of a box of farm produce. You purchase a share up front at the beginning of the year and in return, you receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the season. Information about CSAs and how to find one in your community can be found at http://www.localharvest.org/

Advantages for the Farmer
• Market your produce prior to the growing season
• Receive payment early in the season, which provides cash flow
• Connect with those who will be consuming your produce

Advantages for You
• Fresh food, packed with flavor and vitamins as they will be consumed or frozen very soon after they are harvested
• Exposure to new fruits and vegetables and new ways to prepare them keeps you from getting bored with eating healthy options
• Good for the environment as you have a lower carbon footprint when there is a shorter distance from field to table

 CSA will not meet 100% of your fruit and vegetable needs. For example, depending on the CSA, they may focus only on vegetables. You probably will find that you need to supplement your CSA share
• Eating seasonally is an adjustment. If you are not accustomed to eating seasonally, it may take you some time to transition from eating whatever is at the grocery store to a focus as to what is in season from the current week’s CSA box.  Many CSAs provide a list of what produce to expect and when
• Quantity varies. Farmers try to provide a variety of items in a reasonable quantity on a weekly basis. An important question to ask before you sign up with your local CSA is how much produce to expect to be delivered weekly as well as the expected variances throughout the full season
• Policies vary. For example, learn what arrangements can be made if you are out of town for a week; What does it mean for you if there is a bunker crop or low productions due to influences from Mother Nature

All in all, buying a share in a CSA provides you a way to invest both in your local community and in your own health, as well as it helps keep your environment healthy. Bon Appetite!

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