Summer is a wonderful season, it is a time for being outside and enjoying the sun! It is also a wonderful time to explore your local farmer’s market and take advantage of the local CSAs. I get asked all the time what is a CSA and why should I care. If you’re like me and everyone else trying to eat healthy, then you probably try to shop in your local heath food store or co-op as much as possible. So, you have probably seen postings for local CSAs but have no idea what they are or how to sign up. Here at Wellness Sidekick, we would like to clear up the confusion and answer those questions as quickly as possible so you can sign your butt up for one this summer!
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, or sometimes called a farm share. These are local farms putting together a crop-sharing program so they can sell what they grow through peak harvesting seasons. This is alway a way for farmers to connect with local individuals and families in the area to sell their produce and also is a great way for families to find locally sourced food.
Weekly or bi-weekly, you pick up a box of produce from the farm or local pick-up location. Inside the box, you will find the fruits and vegetables that were ready to be harvested that week. This means every week what’s inside your box could be different. Most farms also have goods you can add to the box, like eggs, milk, and cheese. Some even have baked goods, preservatives, and honey! All of this is for less than what you would pay at the store.
CSAs have so many benefits; one of the biggest is to support local farms. When you sign up for a CSA, you are guaranteeing farm income for the seasons and guaranteeing sales for the local farmers. It is like pre-ordering a box of produce before it’s ready; the farmers make money and you get first dibs on what they are growing!
Another benefit to a farm share is that is pretty inexpensive because you are buying directly from the farmer and there are no middle-man expenses. Also, you’re buying a part of a harvest with other families so you’re getting a bulk discount. The average price of a farm share is usually $15 -$30 a week for a medium size box of produce. This usually supplies a family of 4 their produce for a whole week. Most people spend more than that at their local grocery store.
Variety! Most CSAs come with a variety of different fruits and vegetables in them. It is a great way to try all kinds of things you were too scared to buy at the grocery store. Plus, you know that what you’re getting in these boxes isexactly what you should be eating for this time of year.
The last major benefit is that it is local! When you shop local, there is less impact on the environment, it is healthier for you, and you’re supporting your local farmer. This is also a great way to get to know the people in your community. Generally, pick-up stops are local businesses and shops that are looking to get involved in their community!
While you’re getting produce for a good price, there is a chance that a crop could fail or there could be a natural disaster, and then you won’t get anything for that season. There is no guarantee of delivery for your box. If the farm does well, you get a great batch of produce; but, if it doesn’t, you might not get anything.
You don’t get to pick what you get. If your farmer has an abundance of radishes this season, you’re getting a mountain of radishes in your box. There is no picking what comes in your box; it’s like produce roulette. This is why it is important to pick your farm share carefully; one share might be a little more, but it could be connected to 4 different farms, guaranteeing that you get a variety of fruits and veggies every week!
Signing up for a CSA is a great way to diversify what you’re eating and keep things local. Your environment, body, and the local farmer will thank you for being a part of a summer farm share. When you support your local farmer, you’re doing more than just eating better.