From Blossom’s email bag:
What is a CSA and why should I get one?
Mindy Phoenix, AZ.
A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is like a private farmers market delivered to your table. I like to think of it as a farm club for non-farmers. A CSA offers a community of people (aka members) a way to receive a basket of farm-fresh, delicious food from a local farmer on a regular basis. It’s like having an extension of your own garden without all the work!
A CSA is at the very heart of the LOCAL movement in food. Instead of food that’s mass marketed, mainstreamed or otherwise “unknown”, long-distance, impersonal at best and toxic at worst, CSAs offer food that’s family farmed, understood, local and mindful of the best practices and relationships between and for agriculture and earth and best of all – healthy! They offer tangible and practical ways for community members and farmers to know each other and join together in taking care of the land. CSA’s are nurturing to the families who farm the food, and help ensure the long-term survival of our local small farms in America a mission near and dear to Laloo’s heart and home.
When you join a CSA, you commit to buying from that farmer for a certain amount of time, like a growing season. Sometimes you pay a small amount of money at the start of the season, which helps the farmers pay their initial planting expenses. In essence, you help plant the seeds from which your food will grow.
Then, as the various foods become ready to eat, you and other members pick up (or have delivered) your fresh goodies each week, paying either weekly or monthly. Think of it as the fresh food stock market – only no junk! You invest and as a shareholder you enjoy dividends throughout the growing season.
This is farm to table and as fresh as it gets without getting dirt under your nails in your own backyard. As a bonus CSAs often include heirloom and other unusual foods, allowing you to experiment with and enjoy a wider variety of foods. Some farms even include short newsletters and recipe ideas for cooking the foods in the basket that week.
But, most importantly, CSAs offer numerous essential benefits to the small farmer, greatly enhancing their ability to survive and flourish. The small sums paid at the start of the season allow the farmer to pay their initial planting and land expenses. And people’s commitments give the farmer a known market for their food – significantly reducing their debt, stress and time spent marketing instead of farming, and waste of unsold food.
If you’re still not sold think about your own pocketbook. A “CSA usually delivers high-quality products at below market prices….” “One detailed three-year study showed that CSA members would have paid 37% more at their supermarket for conventionally-grown food.”
Every CSA is different (in some areas it is called subscription farming), so talk to your neighbors to find a farm near you who might be part or know of a local CSA near you. Or better yet talk to that local farm(s) and start one! Get involved with your food. Offer to work for some or all of your food, or donate a few hours each season to help the CSA system work. You’ll be so surprised at how much better your food tastes when you become an active part of it’s production and delivery. And studies prove that children exposed to farming and growing at an early age are more adventurous in eating and have a much greater intake of fruits and vegetables than if they only consume “unknown” food.
See you at the farm!