Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
I live in Los Angeles, and I subscribe to a CSA that delivers a box of fresh, organic produce to my door every Friday morning. It’s awesome. Here’s why:
1. My family eats more fresh fruits and vegetables.
My CSA box usually has 2 large leafy greens in it every week. Around the time I subscribed, we were only eating the occasional bagged salad or head of broccoli, and I had to quickly adjust to eating more greens. (Now, I buy additional fresh greens at the Farmers Market half way through the week. I’ve changed a lot.) And I’m motivated to use up the produce in the fridge to make room for the next delivery.
2. CSA introduced me to new fruits and vegetables.
Romanesco. Collard greens. Beet greens. Rainbow chard. Baby bok choy. Hydroponic lettuce. Fresh apricots. Purple potatoes. Rainbow carrots. Shishito peppers. Sunchokes. Plumcots. Delicata squash. The list goes on.
3. CSA challenged my cooking.
Naturally, getting unfamiliar foods dropped off on my doorstep forced me to learn how to prepare and eat them. There’s always a newsletter included that has some information on how to store and prepare one of the featured foods in the box; it even provides a couple related recipes. I’m much better at meal planning so that it all stays relatively fresh. I know that my fresh heads of broccoli only have a few days before they start to turn yellow (and lose nutrition), but I can leave a head of cabbage in the crisper for weeks!
4. CSA spoiled my taste buds.
We couldn’t believe the difference in taste! Nantes carrots are so crispy and sweet. My CSA sweet potatoes are so delicious, even without oil or salt! Even the lettuce has more complex flavor, like you can taste the nutrition in it. Our family truly enjoys fresh produce, and I completely credit my CSA box (and the local Farmers Market). We still sometimes buy loose carrots from our local grocery store, but they’re only good for grating into cookies or adding to soups.
5. CSA taught me to appreciate the seasons.
At the grocery store, you can buy just about anything… any time of year. Before my CSA subscription, I had no idea what local foods were actually in season. Now, we eat juicy peaches and watermelon through the heat of summer, rich starches and apples through the fall, kiwi and kale through the winter, and tonnes of zucchini in the spring. Seasonal produce not only tastes better, it’s more nutritious. It refreshes you, warms you, or cleanses you as your seasonal needs change.
6. CSA taught me to appreciate the farm.
Feeling connected to a farm brings awareness to where your food comes from. I’m more sensitive to the challenges the farm faces, like too much rain, heat waves, or even weeds. I’m more grateful for the people who labor in the fields, planting and nurturing and harvesting. If I do let anything go to waste, it pains me, knowing that many hands worked to supply that food.
There’s honesty and integrity in the food, and you can taste it.
I am so blessed to live in Southern California, where there is an abundance of local produce available all year round. Nonetheless, I will seek out a CSA no matter where we live in the future. The produce is a little more expensive than I might pay at the store, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Looking for a CSA near you? Local Harvest might be the place to start.