Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Joining a CSA – Is it Worth it?

Tuesday. CSA pickup day. My usual Tuesday routine this time of year is late afternoon yoga, followed by food pickup at the CSA. It’s the perfect zen ending to my day.

In case you have no idea what I am talking about, CSA means Community Supported Agriculture. While all CSAs are different, I never know what I’m going to get until I arrive and check the white board. Even with a small share, I usually have more than enough veggies to get us through the week.

I love belonging to the CSA. Besides the obvious benefits of locally grown, pesticide-free produce, going to the farm every week gives me a feeling of connectedness to the earth. It helps me feel grounded. And when I’m out in the field searching for berries or picking my own herbs, it’s peaceful. Not quiet, because there’s work going on around me, but there’s a calmness to the activity.

As I was leaving yoga last week a friend mentioned that she wanted to join a CSA but her husband wasn’t sure it was worth the cost. I had to admit that it was expensive – an expense that is noticeable because it’s paid in a lump sum, in advance. And just like the stock market, there are no guaranteed returns – if there’s a flood or a draught and the crops are lost, I might receive less in return.

If I prorate the cost on a per-week basis, we pay about $30 per week for a half-share. Usually that means five or six items per week. Last week I brought home one head of lettuce, a pound of potatoes, half a pound of arugula, half a pound of lettuce greens, one pound of broccoli, and a large bunch of scallions. If I had bought organic versions of those veggies at the grocery store I could probably do it for a little bit less – but just a bit.

I should note that my CSA is not certified organic – the cost to become certified would be prohibitive. In fact, it’s very difficult to find locally organic produce in my area. Nevertheless, it’s easy to find produce grown using clean, green, pesticide-free methods – and that’s what matters most to me.

So, is it worth it? My answer is a resounding yes!

I am supporting the local community with my share (the CSA also does a lot of community outreach).

It’s locally grown which means I am reducing my carbon footprint.

There is less waste because what I bring home from the CSA never seems to go bad.

It tastes better. (I don’t think I’m imagining that. It really does.)

And did I mention the berries? In addition to our share, when the berries are ripe we can pick our own:

No, they aren’t perfectly shaped, and they aren’t huge, but look at how red and juicy they are! These will be long gone before I get a chance to make jam out of them.

Do you belong to a CSA? Why would you choose to join? Or why not?

No comments: