Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Buy Local Through A CSA


There’s been numerous times that I’ve chosen an orange or apple at the grocery store that looked deceptively beautiful and brightly colored only to bite into a tasteless watery piece of fruit. I think all of us would probably agree that freshly picked produce tastes much better than the kind that was picked before it was ripe and then shipped thousands of miles over several days to a grocery store near you losing much of it’s nutrients. For many the solution to tasteless nutrition-less produce is to grow your own. Fresh picked carrots are sweet when eaten directly from the soil they grew in. In fact most produce that is locally grown has a distinctly different taste than the kind at the store. But what if you don’t have the time or space to grow your own? Then a CSA might be your answer.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It’s a way to partner up with local farmers to not only provide us with fresher and healthier products but it helps the local farmer have a steady stream of income so it can stay afloat. In a nutshell, farmers offer a certain number of “shares” to the public. The “share” or membership guarantees that each person receives a box of fresh produce each week during the growing season. Many farms grow year round while others function mainly from May to October. With some farms, having a membership means that you can have a say in what crops you’d like planted each year. Many not only offer shares in their produce but in eggs, breads, honey, cheeses and flowers.

Bonnie Doble from Pacific Way CSA is a passionate local farmer. She offers eggs, chickens, turkeys and flowers as well as garden fresh produce. “CSA’s are great for trying new foods that aren’t available at supermarkets. Most supermarket produce is bred for longevity not freshness,“ She also adds. “Now is the time to sign up for a share because that way the farmers know how much to grow.”

“CSA members usually get the first and last crops of the season. When we go to the local Farmers Markets we can only take crops that we can pick really fast since we’re pushed for time,” says Michael McKee owner of Willow Grove Gardens, a certified organic farm. “CSA members get a much wider variety of crops to choose from. Also the crops that are grown in smaller numbers, such as pears and apples, are reserved specifically for members.”

If CSA’s aren’t for you then plan to attend a local Farmers Market. Many farmers bring their produce to town and sell it directly to the public. During peak season this means an abundance of locally grown food. Farmers Markets in our area usually run from April or May until October and offer everything from herbs, starter plants for your own garden and other farmed or craftily made goods.

When you purchase local foods, not only are you eliminating the environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of miles but you are helping to support local business and economy. Every dollar goes directly to the farmer and you get the benefit of eating healthy unprocessed foods that taste better.

To find more CSA’s and Farmers Markets near you visit http://www.localharvest.org/

8 comments:

Quoda said...

I love my CSA! The farmers give such a great variety of food and make it worth every penny. It is a larger cost up front (I have to pay for half of the season up front and the other half toward the beginning of the season), but worthwhile. I was spending $40 a week at a farmers' market to get less produce than I get now for $25 a week. It really makes a difference.

I also got to tour the farm, which is right by a cabin my dad owns out in the woods. The farmers talked to all the shareholders about why they decided to farm this way and how they want to protect the nearby river. I love it. I'm supporting a real farm family that is working hard to grow real delicious produce.

sara said...

I've priced the local ones around me, but they're way to expensive, and they don't include any fruit so I'd still have to spend extra money every week on fruit.
However, since I'm in the process of switching to a whole foods/organic/natural diet, I will be starting my first ever container garden this summer :)

I'm also planning on shopping at our local farmers markets a lot, along with hitting lots of the U PICK farms that my area has. That way I'll actually be picking the produce myself, and getting it at the peak of freshness!
Then I'll freeze it or can it (another thing on my 'to learn' list!).

Jennifer said...

We are members of a winter CSA and love it. We get a little produce, but mostly meats, cheeses, eggs, baked goods, pasta, grains, etc. Our CSA pulls from over 70 different farms local to us and delivers to our town. I love it!

Karen said...

Argh! Every so often I check into CSAs. The closest CSA to my house is 140 miles away. Waah! There happens to be six in that town, no less!
I have a friend in your area who is a long-time proponent of CSAs. I am jealous of her weekly deliveries! She helps coordinate the Camas Farmers Market and, thanks to geographical differences, your market season is much longer than ours and your variety of offerings is more varied. So jealous! Enjoy!

Annie said...

Great post! While I don't belong to a CSA, we do garden and support our local farmers' market. Making friends with the farmers will often get you in on their "off-season growing", like root crops, or hothouse greens that can help you get through the colder months with some fresh produce.

Where I live, we've even got a local foods initiative to encourage people to support the local farmers and to start their own community gardens. But, it's sad that we need this initiative since I live in a rural, farm-heavy area of NW Ohio.

Heather said...

I love my CSA!!!

Penny said...

I checked out your link with CSAs in my fiancé's proximity (I'm moving in with him after our wedding later this year), and to my joy, there are oodles of CSAs with decent to good ratings in the greater Seattle area.

I've been thinking of joining one before I even knew what they're called. So your post was informative and helpful to me.

Thank you!

Lyn said...

I LOVE my CSA, too! It has really expanded our veggie horizons. We never really ate kale or hard squash or beets before. And while we won't be growing any of them ourselves, I feel better for having introduced us to these standbys. That said, I now give my beets to a girlfriend or trade them at the CSA for something we like better.