Tammy’s Top Ten (the t3 report) Reasons to join a CSA

Community Supported Agriculture is a growing phenomena and if you haven’t guessed, I think that’s a good thing. And I’m tickled by the variations that I’m seeing.  ArizonaKnitter recently posted about the CSA that she joined which is focused on yarn and fiber. At one of my kid’s schools, they’ve embraced a slighty marked up CSA program as a weekly fundraiser.  But to what end? Why should you participate in Community Supported Agriculture?

 

flickr.cc.thebittenworld.smalleggplant

 

Here are my top ten reasons for joining a CSA:

1. Keeps my dollars in the local economy. Since my previous post on this topic, a more recent study by Local Works examined the impact of local business on West Michigan economies. Their research shows that 73 cents of every dollar spent with a local business stays local versus 43 cents when spent with a non-local business.  Farms are considered local business.

2. We’re eating fruits and vegetables that are pulled right out of the ground. According to Preston Andrews, PhD, an associate professor of horticulture at Washington State University, “Nutrients in most fruits and vegetables start to diminish as soon as they’re picked, so for optimal nutrition, eat produce within 1 week of buying.”

3. Food travels less distance to get to my plate. In Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,  her husband wrote that if every American ate only one locally grown meal each week, we’d reduce our country’s weekly oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels.

4. I get to know a farmer and create community. I’ve visited Desert Roots Farm. I’ve spoken with farmer, Kelly Saxer. I know that she uses sheep to weed around the edges and that she’s in constant contact with other farmers. The Japanese call this teikei or putting a face on our food.

5. We eat seasonally and get things that make more sense to grow in the desert. Even though we live in  a global marketplace and have the ability to frequent global sourced grocery stores, eating seasonally cuts down on the food miles mentioned in reason #3. Local farmers find options that grow well in our climate and with less water. In many cases, they participate in seed saver programs to keep those authentic crops available.

 

flickr.cc.thebittenworld.okra

 

6. We try new things. Before joining my CSA, I’d never eaten a Jerusalem Artichoke or sauteed turnip greens. I didn’t like beets and thought kohlrabi was a distant memory from my youth.

7. I cook more. We do our weekly menu planning after seeing what’s in our CSA share. Our meals are more vegetable focused and that’s good for many reasons.

8. I have an opportunity to share. There are times when I don’t use it all during the week and at those times, I bag up a few items for a friend or send a dish to a neighbor.

9. My kids know the names of vegetables whether or not they like them. One of the more horrifying moments of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution for me was Jamie in a first grade classroom holding up celery and the children exclaiming, “Pear”. Many truly have a disconnected education regarding where their food comes from.

10. It creates something wonderful to blog about. I really enjoy seeing what’s in my weekly delivery and while my blog topics have strayed from time to time, food, our connections to it and the lessons that we learn in life’s kitchen continually inspire me.

 

flickr.cc.thebittenworld.chilis

 

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82 Comments

  1. wellmet

     /  July 22, 2010

    Hear hear! I love our CSA for all the same reasons, and it’s always so hard in the fall when it goes away for another year. I can’t imagine ever going back.

    Reply
  2. Our CSA in Maryland ran May to November. Our CSA here in FL runs November to May.

    Lucky you to have a year round CSA.

    Excellent post!

    Reply
    • Thanks Nancy. I’m surprised that you don’t have a year-round CSA in FL. One more thing to put on my “I’m grateful for…” list.

      Reply
    • I’m in Florida too, way down south in Redland near Homestead and the Everglades. The CSA season here also runs Nov-May. There are a la carte offerings of fruit, eggs and honey through the summer, too. Avocados are coming in now, yum!

      Reply
  3. Those are all wonderful reasons! I have a wonderful farmers market in my town and most of those reasons could apply to it. However, I love the idea of being given a secret ingredient and having to come up with a good way to prepare it (very Iron Chef)!

    Reply
  4. And how about:
    11) So I have to look up new recipes so I can figure out how to use all these vegetables
    12) so I can pretend I’m a farmer when I pick up my stuff at “my farm”
    13) so my compost bin has more in it than my trash

    Reply
  5. Hi Tammy,

    I have to agree with all your reasons too. One year we decided to split a share with family friends. By so doing, we developed a stronger relationship with them because we met once a week to divide the share and we talked on countless more days about new recipes we tried with what was in the share that week.

    Reply
  6. Tammy, I agree with most of your reasons. Joined the Redland Organics CSA in search of fresh mustard greens, and discovered Japanese greens, kohlrabi, striped beets and canistel, among other things. Over the years, became friends with “my” farmer and several CSA members, have taken tons of pictures on my farm visits, regained my health and sanity, and started a blog. The power of local fruits and veggies!

    Reply
  7. Today was Mystery Thursday with Mariquita Farm. Zoe and I and went to pick up our mystery box at a local restaurant. She just loves all the mystery and she ate a cherry tomato right out of the box. It is fun because we have to figure out what we have and then what to do with it.

    Amen to all 10 reasons.

    Reply
  8. I live alone and the year I did a CSA split with my wonderful neighbors was fun. They did 2/3 and I did 1/3 and it worked out well. They didnt’ want to do it this year so I vowed to visit farmer’s markets more – which I do. I KNOW Farmer Nick (and am a fan of his on Facebook as well) from whom I get eggs and chicken. Your reasons are great and I love all the pictures in your blog, Tammy! Great post – thanks!

    Reply
    • A smaller share is definitely a good idea if you are on your own or travel but a farmer’s market is also a perfectly good solution. It’s just much harder work for the farmers.

      Reply
  9. Great article! Thanks again for stopping by my blog and telling me about this! 🙂

    Reply
  10. I completely agree with every point here. Sadly, there are no CSA options in my city, but that simply means I’ll keep driving out to the farmers market every Saturday. That counts, right? 🙂

    Reply
  11. Teddi Davis

     /  July 23, 2010

    Pulling vegetables from the ground and consuming shortly results in retained nutrients, but also means it tastes better! Nice write-up, Tammy.

    Reply
  12. Tammy, your blog is always so incredibly informative! I had no idea there were so many CSA farms in my area! I can’t wait to check them out! Take care, Tracy

    Reply
  13. Such a fan of CSAs and I agree with your ten reasons. I just arrived in New York so I will not be part of my California CSA any longer, but I cannot wait to check out the green markets in my new hometown.

    Reply
  14. I am so glad you wrote about this. I hope this trend becomes the norm.

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com/

    Reply
  15. This is a great post! I love my CSA. It challenges me to try new things and it’s so fresh. I used to want to buy veggies and fruit at the grocery store (this was before I realized the importance of supporting local farms) but everything always looked bad and tasted even worse. That’s when I started going to the Farmers’ Markets and eventually I signed up for a CSA.
    This needs to be on the Freshly Pressed page to spread the word. 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks for the very kind words. What I’ve loved is that there are even more good reasons pouring in from readers.

      Reply
  16. I keep thinking about doing a CSA. Maybe this is the year. You have shared great information.

    Reply
  17. Loved reading about this. Not sure if there is a CSA in my area, but will research it. Blessings,Kathleen

    Reply
  18. I agree with all your reasons! I, too, feel lucky to be in a place where I can get a year-round CSA. And I love the challenge of coming up with new dishes or learning how to use unfamiliar vegetables. I also think that the more demand there is for this kind of service, the more readily available it will become. And that is definitely a positive step.

    Reply
  19. Awesome blog post:)

    Reply
  20. These are excellent and true reasons to go the CSA way! We’ve been doing it for about three years or so and I look forward to our box every time!

    Reply
  21. Your timing is perfect! My neighbor has been doing this for a while, and, in fact, she’s having a get-together this afternoon to try to talk others in the neighborhood into doing it, too. We’ve been supporting the local Farmers’ Market, but we need to sign up for a mystery box of produce, too.

    Reply
    • Good luck. I hope it turns out well for you. If you have enough neighbors, then your drop off spot can be really close.

      Reply
  22. Deb

     /  July 26, 2010

    Great post! All great reasons, but I specifically identify with 5,6 & 8. I too have “learned” to like veggies I used to avoid, or explored recipes which made them taste better and had friends suggest some. We have found the incentive to have people over or give items away a fun part too. Thanks for including the name of your CSA. My parents winter in AZ and I’d like to get them turned onto this as their community is definitely out of touch with this movement. I’ll give them the name. 🙂

    Reply
    • That’s great. Do have them call Kelly. I’m sure she’d be happy to hear from them. The AZ economy is still suffering.

      Reply
  23. jeffandmary

     /  July 26, 2010

    As the daughter of a farmer, but now being 400 miles away from that farm, I want to support the farmers around here! There will always be a little farm girl in me even though I live in suburbia now.
    I guess it doesn’t count as local produce if we take a trip to my parents’ place in the fall and come back with a car full of their stuff… but nothing tastes the same to me as the fruits of their garden!

    Reply
  24. jessiecarty

     /  July 26, 2010

    Great article and discussion going on here 🙂

    I looked into CSA’s in our area but it was definitely more than I had hoped to pay. I wish more of them would have different levels for those of us with no children or what about single people? It isn’t always easy to find other people to share 😦

    Reply
    • Some CSAs let you purchase a small or half share. I’d definitely recommend it as otherwise it would be too much food. For now, farmer’s markets will work for you.

      Reply
  25. You beat me to it, Tammy! I’ve been meaning to write a post about reasons to join a CSA… my #1 is experimenting with new foods! Great post.

    Reply
  26. I think joining a CSA makes me less inclined to waste my food. More leftovers end up in my belly than in the disposal. I’m not sure why exactly this has happened to me, but I guess it has to do with connecting with my food.

    Reply
  27. steph & jess

     /  July 28, 2010

    as a first time csa-er, i love trying new things and sharing them with people! my sister thought she didn’t like beets until i made some for her, and i never thought i would be able to enjoy something with a name like rat-tail radish, but i was wrong!

    Reply
  28. Your reason #6 is one of my favorite things about our CSA – we have tried so many news veggies as a result, and so fresh its amazing. Plus, at least ours is great at offering preparation suggestions so you can always experiment and try new techniques. We’ve learned that far more of the veggie is edible than we first knew – beet greens for example we just thought were there to prove the veggie was organic. But oh no – they are just darn tasty too.

    Reply
  29. This is a wonderful list!

    Another one of my main reasons for participating in CSA is that it’s the most direct, supportive way to connect with the people who grow our food. Having subscribers lessens the burden of trying to figure out how much they’ll be able to sell – I feel terrible when I see farmers packing up tons of unsold produce they have to shlep home from the farmer’s market. Having a stable income stream allows farmers to take risks, diversify, and try new things as well as weather unexpected challenges and disasters.

    Reply
    • Great point. The farmer’s markets are so hard on them and the produce doesn’t fair as well going from farm to market and back.

      Reply
  30. Ozarkhomesteader

     /  August 2, 2010

    We live too far from a CSA, but I do get to use our Locally Grown network. I really like knowing the farmers that raised our chicken, the cows that produce our milk, etc. I know that they are kind to their animals and that they don’t use chemicals. I know–vegetarian would be even better, but for now I feel comfortable knowing our sources this well.

    Reply
  31. All good reasons to join a CSA! It always makes me sad when kids don’t know about fruits and veggies! I made a chocolate cheesecake and put raspberries on top and my niece thought there was a hair in her cheesecake because she didn’t know that fresh raspberries had little hairs on them. I was happy to educate her.

    Reply
    • Good for you! Once it cools down, I am intending to do some classes around cooking for kids. I was inspired by Jamie Oliver’s “teach every kid 10 recipes”.

      Reply
  32. What a great list! My friends often ask me what’s so great about joining a CSA and this list nails it!

    Reply
  33. All excellent reasons to belong to CSA Tammy, thanks for listing them. I will pass it along as well if anyone asks.

    Dan

    Reply
  34. I love knowing where my food comes from. On CSA field day, my 3-year-old pulled a carrot out of the ground and ate it on the spot. I wish we had a garden.

    Reply
  35. Thanks so much for this.

    Reply
  36. Thanks Jane!

    Reply
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