Article appears courtesy of Wellness Without Pity.
Have you hugged your farmer today? If you are a member of a CSA, then maybe you have! Community-supported agriculture clubs, also known as “CSAs,” connect consumers with local farmers and provide fresh, locally grown, and often organic produce in “share boxes” every week. Buying a weekly CSA share has become more popular as more families strive to eat organic food free from pesticides, and spend their money locally. Here are a few ways to determine whether a CSA membership is a good idea for you.
You want to eat locally-grown, organic food.
Most grocery stores offer organic produce, but not many can boast that their fruits and veggies are grown locally. Take a look at the label on that pint of blueberries: it may have come from as far away as Chile! If spending your grocery dollar locally and eating food that is in season for your geographic area is important to you, a CSA can help you do that. CSA boxes are filled with seasonal produce that is grown in your community, so you know that your money stays local and the food you get is seasonal. That might mean you won’t find strawberries in the summer or bananas in the spring, but when you do receive them they will be at their freshest!
You don’t mind being flexible and trying new foods.
Since CSA shares vary with the season, you never know what will be in your box from week to week. You might find yourself thumbing through a cookbook or searching online for recipes to prepare kale, brussels sprouts, or bok choy so that your fresh produce does not go to waste. If your family turns their noses up at new foods or you do not like the spontaneity of rolling up your sleeves to learn how to prepare a new food, you may be better off frequenting a local farmer’s market where you can select your own local produce rather than buying a share in a CSA. Many CSAs include recipes and other tips for the foods that are featured that week to help members make the best use of their share.
You can pay upfront for membership fees.
Each CSA has different fees and guidelines, but many require members to pay upfront for the season. Fees can range from $200 to $600 depending on the size of your share, your geographic area, and whether you pick up your box or have it delivered. In Florida, Annie’s Organic Buying Club makes it easy to eat organic produce and boasts that more members helps drive the individual cost down.
You want to help create a sustainable agricultural future.
Buying locally grown produce not only helps your community, it gives you the chance to “vote with your fork,” and demonstrate to food manufacturers and marketers the increasing importance of food safety and integrity.
Every CSA is different, which makes it easier than ever to buy locally, eat organic, and support local farmers and growers. Find a CSA near you at Local Harvest, an organization that helps connect consumers with local farmers across the country. Embrace the opportunity to make the food you eat the healthiest you can afford. After all, whether your produce comes from a CSA, a local farmer’s market, or the grocery store, a healthier life is its own reward.