A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Goal to eat more veggies? Consider Community Supported Agriculture

on January 7, 2014

This week, I was very excited to get the email inviting us to sign up for our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program for 2014. This is the third year we’ve done it and it has been a lot of fun. Community Supported Agriculture groups are present in many areas now. You can google your area and “CSA” or “Community Supported Agriculture” to find out where it is coordinated or ask at your local farmers market when it starts again. CSAs allow the members to purchase a “share” of produce for the growing season in your area. Typically, you pay before the season starts and then receive regular deliveries of fresh and local produce. In our case, the growing season starts in May and will go through November. You do not typically get to choose what is in your particular bag of produce, which is part of the fun for us. What you are receiving is the freshest and best the local participating farmers have to offer for the week. There are evenings when I’ve picked up my bag, only to be told that the corn was picked just that morning!

We decided to participate for several reasons.

– My husband and I both come from families with farming backgrounds, so we know how valuable it is for smaller farming interests to have a commitment for financial support early in the season. The downside to this for us as consumers is that we have no control over how much we will receive. Last year, the cold weather lasted much longer than expected and the CSA bags of produce were very light for the first month or so. We were okay with that because we accepted that we were making an investment in those farmers, just as much as we were buying vegetables. Our CSA also tried to make up for that by giving us bulging bags later in the year.

– Environmentally, buying locally is just as important as buying organic. The farmers who participate in this program are all from our area and many of them are regulars at our local farmers markets as well, so we get to build a relationship with them. Local produce also cuts down on transit time, so we are getting the absolutely freshest produce and cutting down on the environmental impact of all of those miles traveled to deliver food.

– It has definitely challenged us to try new vegetables! I’d never tried kohlrabi before we started the CSA and this weird looking veggie showed up in my bag. Once, I had to post a picture of something in the bag on Facebook to find out what it was via crowd-sourcing (turned out to be garlic shoots). I’ve prepared radishes and cabbages many different ways now (and still don’t like them, but at least we’re trying!). It has definitely encouraged us to try things we would have never picked up at our local grocery store. Thankfully, our CSA always includes a newsletter with recipe ideas and usually I can go onto the website early in the week to see what is projected to be included in this week’s bag so I can start menu planning. I learned to make gazpacho because we got absolutely overwhelmed with tomatoes between the CSA and our own little garden. It turns out, I love gazpacho!

Posted this pic to Facebook to figure out what these were! Garlic shoots (which I could I have figured out sooner if I'd smelled it!)

Posted this pic to Facebook to figure out what these were! Garlic shoots (which I could I have figured out sooner if I’d smelled it!)

– The veggies show up every week, so it takes the “I don’t have time for the farmers market” issue out of the equation. We love going to the farmers market (it is a fantastic place for O to play!) but can’t get there every week. This lets us quickly pick up the bag of produce each week and know that we’re going to have fresh options.

Playing at the farmer's markets on a Saturday morning

Playing with beets at the farmer’s markets on a Saturday morning

– Many CSAs will offer the option to add on local meats, cheeses, breads, eggs and other items as well. The first year, we did the bread, eggs and cheese as an add on and were introduced to the most fantastic local bakery. Now that I’m eating less bread (I could seriously down a loaf of good bread in the car on the way home from the store in my pre-weight loss days, so I actively avoid bringing really good bread into my house unless it is for a special occasion) we have dropped that option, but I’m glad to have learned about the bakery. Our CSA program actually now has online add-ons you can do for individual items, like local honeys and jams, that you can select early in the week and have included in your bag at pick up time. Fantastic!

– Unpacking the bag each week is definitely an “event” in our house, which is helping us get our toddler excited about vegetables. We also keep a small garden, so we also get O involved in veggies that way and he loves it.

In addition to the lack of control over what you get (a definite downside if you’re a serious planner), it can be expensive depending on where you are or it can be more produce than your family can eat in a week. (As a family of 2 ½ we’ve never had that particular issue, but we eat lots of produce these days.) You could look into sharing your share with another family or friend, which would help with both cost and abundance of produce. In many areas, there are also discounted rates depending on income or where you live as programs are trying to help those in more urban areas gain access to fresh produce.

Even though I know our farmer’s market season is still months away, this little reminder of spring was a definite boost for me in the midst of a really really cold week!

Have you ever participated in a farm share program?

20 responses to “Goal to eat more veggies? Consider Community Supported Agriculture

  1. playfulpups says:

    No, but I’m thinking about finding one!!

  2. Stacey Kay says:

    This sounds really cool, thank you for sharing. I just looked one up and there is plenty in my area.

  3. Oh that is awesome! What a wonderful suggestion!

  4. I have been mulling over participating in our local program for the past few years. A few co-workers mentioned it to me and there is a pick-up location near my office. I really need to look into it this year. We are incredibly picky eaters, but we really need to increase our fresh veggie intake (we do pretty good with fruit and I’d love some fresh, local fruit)! My boys love tomatoes, carrots and green beans and my toddler also loves peas, so I’m sure they would be over the moon about fresh servings of those and who knows, we may all find something new that we like, like you did. I’m intrigued by the gazpacho. Did the recipe you used come with your delivery one week?

    • I used the Alton Brown recipe from the Food Network website. It was really good and easy. It’s definitely gotten us out of our comfort zone in a good way and even if O doesn’t eat the veggies, at least he’s getting exposed to them more often. That’s eventually got to sink in, right?

      • Love Alton Brown! I agree; exposure is huge! They say with toddlers to try, try again with different foods because sometimes it takes awhile for the taste to be acquired. I know the same applies to me! 🙂

  5. […] daily diet. We’ve joined our local Community Supported Agriculture program (read about that here) and last year we put in a garden in our back yard. Seeing lots of variety in fresh fruits and […]

  6. […] Find new recipes for my fresh fruits and veggies that will show up once our local CSA starts May 12. I’m really looking forward to picking up those bags of goodies each week! […]

  7. […] Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) bag started this week too and I’m looking forward to the challenge of learning how to use […]

  8. […] our morels from the farmer’s market, but so far have been getting pretty basic salad fair in the CSA bag. Things should liven up a bit over the next few […]

  9. […] handy and has lots of concrete tips. I’m considering adding the meat option to our local CSA order in the spring as we try to use more organic and antibiotic free meat […]

  10. […] sort of love that there’s a new Nancy Drew book about a CSA program and confess that I’ve got this on my Goodreads “to read” list. I read a […]

  11. […] pay off in huge dividends with my garden and my flowers. We get to start getting veggies from our CSA this month and I have a few fun races on the schedule. All good things. 🙂 Plus, I get to […]

  12. […] we buy tends to vary based on what’s on the dinner menu and what we’re getting in our CSA bag for the week (currently loads of green beans, which would be good except my nutty kid only […]

  13. […] less fun during this tomato-less phase, but I’m hoping the onset of farmer’s market and CSA season helps with that next month! We’re also working on planning our garden, which is always […]

  14. […] than walking them out to the recycling bin in the kitchen (lazy!). We of course also use our local Community Supported Agriculture program and try to buy locally as much as we can and grow veggies in our own garden. We’ve […]

  15. […] and tomatoes to come later!) but I also have access to glorious farmers markets and my local Community Supported Agriculture program. There’s no excuse for skipping the produce around […]

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