Wednesday, September 9, 2009

To CSA or Not To CSA

Photo courtesy of sallycinnamon on flickr

I have been toying with the idea of a CSA box. For those of you who don't know CSA, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA is a way for a consumer to buy directly from the farmer. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included like fresh farm eggs. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

I think this is a great way to support local farms. You get fresh local organic produce delivered to your door or you can pick it up at the local venue. The prices are reasonable depending on the size of the box, about $24 for a small sized box. You will be forced to learn how to eat in season, encounter unfamiliar produce you would otherwise bypass at the market, every delivery is a suprise. So basically, you have to plan your menu depending on what's in the box. So what if you get something odd like flying saucer squash, kohlrabi, or fennel and kale for weeks on end?

Hmmm...I don't know. The downside is that they hand pick the produce for you. And I've read sometimes the quality is less than stellar:

"I had great hopes for this service and the newsletter included with each delivery comes across as warm and friendly. Unfortunately I don't get a warm and friendly feeling when I open a just arrived box of produce and discover any of the following: a crushed bag of salad greens, a summer squash with fuzzy mold on the end, withered gypsy peppers, an eggplant that's shriveled and scratched like the delivery guy played touch football with it, bruised and crushed tomatoes with broken skin. You get the picture. I can go to my local farmer's market and hand-select the food I want and know that I'm not going to get anything bruised, moldy or downright disgusting unless I miss something when picking stuff out."

I'm a tactile person and the CSA box wouldtake the fun out of going to Farmer's Market every week. I like to pick my own produce and this would pretty much eliminate the problem above. I also like being face to face with my farmer and have the opportunity to ask him/her questions.

Have any of you experienced the CSA box? Other pros and cons? Please share.


Lizzie said...

I know people in Chicago that did this and loved it. I guess though the portions are huge -- one person could never eat a whole delivery before the next comes! So alot of people 'buddy up' with a neighbor or friend and split the contents. It's a great concept though! :o)

Flippin' Yank said...

On that note, I'll just stick to the Farmer's Market.

Thanks for your feedback!:D