First of all, let me say that I love CSAs. Love, love, love them! They’re great in concept and as long as you find a good, reputable farmer, they are good in practice too.
When I was growing up, preparing vegetables at dinner meant opening up a can of corn or peeling the plastic off a head of iceberg lettuce. Once I was grown and had a family of my own to cook for, I had to teach myself how to cook alien-looking vegetables like asparagus or artichoke.
A few years ago, I bought a half a share at a local CSA mostly because I wanted to try locally grown food. What I received in return was so much more. Because I’m frugal and hate to waste, I was forced to try new vegetables I would have normally avoided, like Kale or Turnips. It expanded my family’s vegetable variety and encouraged me to try new recipes. It also inspired me to start my own garden (beyond just growing a tomato plant or two). Unfortunately for the CSA’s bottom line, I now grow enough on my own that I no longer need to buy from them.
Here are the pros and cons to joining a CSA :-
1) You’ll get weekly baskets of fresh, locally grown food.
2) The local CSA is certified organic, so you’ll be ingesting less pesticides.
3) You’ll be able to try new fruits and vegetables.
4) You’ll get to visit a farm every week. If you have kids, they’ll be given a great opportunity to learn how their food is grown. (Free weekly entertainment for the kids!)
1) If you don’t live near a CSA, the weekly drive can get old really fast. I’d suggest encouraging some friends to join with you so you can carpool.
2) Sometimes you will find bugs in the food. If that really bothers you, I’d recommend skipping the broccoli, it was the biggest culprit for us.
3) The food might also not look as shiny and perfectly polished as what you find in the grocery store. It tastes just as good though.
4) You probably won’t save money in the long run.
5) There is a small risk. If weather conditions are horrible, the crops could be destroyed or, at the very least, inaccessible to the farmer for harvesting that week.
6) At certain points in the season, there may not be a big variety. When we participated, we actually had to throw away beans at one point because our freezer was already full of them.
Crème de la Crop, Valparaiso, IN. Michelle included this note for local folks:
As for my experience with Crème de la Crop personally, I would definitely recommend trying it out for at least one year to see if a CSA is a fit for you. They have several different shares that range in price from $50 up to $735. It looks like the variety of foods has expanded a great deal since I participated back in 2007. Not only can you get vegetables, but also fruits and winter storage vegetables. The owner of the farm, Leann Landgrebe Stephens, is wonderful. She includes a newsletter with each week’s harvest that lists recipes and facts about the food you get.
Local Harvest website to find more information and other local CSAs and standard farms HERE
So, how about you? Anyone else had any experience with CSAs? Good/bad/indifferent? leave a comment and let us know!