Get your 5 a day with a CSA
Summers can get busy, and even finding the time on a Saturday to make it to the farmers market can be challenging. And the lines at the grocery stores… don’t get me started. Thankfully there is an even easier way to get fresh, locally grown produce: CSAs.
CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Many area farms have their own CSA programs, and while the details of each may be different, the idea is essentially the same: people from the community pay a one-time fee at the beginning of the spring and get to pick up boxes full of fresh veggies, herbs, fruit, and other produce all summer long.
“CSAs are the most affordable way to access the freshest food around,” says Kristin Pearson of Pearson Organics. “The flavor and nutritional content of any fresh produce starts waning from the moment it is harvested. Most produce in a CSA box is harvested within days or hours of it arriving in your hands - giving you and your family the best-tasting and best food for you.”
CSAs will expose you to all kinds of new produce, but don’t let that keep you from trying one out; oftentimes the farmers will send a newsletter with information about that week’s box, including what the products are and/or recipes that’ll teach you how to use unfamiliar or unusual ingredients. Some farms even have add-on options like one dozen eggs or flowers, or a loaf of homemade bread!
“In the golden age of the internet, it’s nearly impossible not to be a decent cook,” says Pearson. “Type in the contents of your CSA box into Google and I’m sure you’ll find a great recipe! Who knows what someone has already done with butternut squash, kohlrabi, onions, and shishito peppers?”
Each farm will have a different pick-up day and location, so take that into consideration when deciding which CSA is right for you. Here are four other things to consider before signing up for a CSA:
1. Size. Choose the right size for you and your family to make sure you get the most out of your experience. Whether you’re cooking for one or five, there are plenty of options. You can even go in on a box with a friend and share the food love!
2. Time. Choose a delivery day when you have a bit of time in your schedule. That way you can prep any produce you aren’t going to use right away, or plan meals around a new item.
3. Support. When you choose a farm for your CSA, you’re saying to them, “I believe in what you’re doing.” By buying into the farm, you’re showing your support for them no matter what the summer brings. Your financial support helps kick-start their season, and keeps them growing all summer (and possibly fall) long.
4. Explore! Hit the internet and search for new recipes using the ingredients in your box. Because they’re at the peak of freshness, anything you make with them will taste just a little bit better.