Last November, I began receiving weekly deliveries from a winter season CSA. Signing up for a CSA is kind of like purchasing a share of the farm's harvest. You aren't buying the produce from a retailer; you're buying it from the farm directly. You can search for a CSA in your area here.
Here are my thoughts so far:
1. Why, hello there, fiber. Want to get more vegetables into your diet? Join a CSA. You'll be up to your elbows in fresh vegetables with no excuse not to eat them. My CSA sends a weekly e-newsletter that includes recipes too.
2. It's exciting. "Ooh, we got carrots!" is an exclamation I never thought I'd utter, but that changed with my CSA. Even though the majority of the produce is pretty traditional fare like apples, potatoes, onions, etc., it's a surprise each week. The excitement makes it easier to use everything up.
|CSA vegetable soup with celery root and lots of other stuff.|
3. I'm trying new things. Last week, there were two odd, root-looking things in my box and several of these root things lying next to my box (discarded). I asked someone working at the drop-off site (I pick mine up at a cafe) if he knew what it was, and he informed me that it was celery root and that it was good in soups. Armed with that knowledge, I actually picked up one of the discarded ones that someone had left. They taste just fine, but the point is that I've never seen a recipe calling for celery root, and I never would have thought to buy one if I saw it in a store.
4. I have a closer connection to my food's source. I know where the farm is that this food came from. I could drive to it if I wanted to. I understand that a human being was responsible for the food's production and delivery. Sure, we all know that's how food gets to our table, but how often do we think about it? I think about it a lot more now.
5. I waste less. Because I feel more connected to the food's origin, I have a greater sense of the effort involved. I have had to throw away some things (see #7 below), and I feel terrible about it. My solution was to start splitting my share with a friend, and I think that's working out much better, and now we both get to reap the benefits. I also feel less wasteful in general because I'm eating more fresh food close to the source and fewer packaged items.
|Salads are exciting with CSA butternut squash!|
6. It's seasonal. There's a lot of talk lately about eating with the seasons, but it's hard to do when we can get bananas and strawberries all year long in most supermarkets. I'm not even totally sure what's in season at any given time, so the CSA takes out the guesswork. Hint: It's apparently brussels sprouts season.
7. One negative--too much of the same thing (see: brussels sprouts). Yes, it's seasonal, and that's very important, but I'd be better able to use everything if there was a little more variety. Actually, I'd be better able to use everything if there was just less of everything.
8. Fewer or shorter trips to the grocery store. I just realized today that I go to the store a lot less than I used to and I spend less time there. That's pretty cool. I'm usually able to whip up an impromptu meal with ingredients I already have, or I only have to pick up a couple items to make a meal.
If you belong to a CSA, how has your experience been?