Friday, August 6, 2010

How To Make a CSA Work for You

In December of last year, we joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It’s probably not the most common time of year to join a CSA, but we are very fortunate in California and get some locally grown vegetables year round.

Here is what we got this week:





When we joined the CSA, we were shopping at local Farmers’ Markets several times per week, and we were quite happy with the produce we bought there. However, we didn’t always get organic fruits and veggies, so joining an organic CSA made a lot of sense.

Here is what I’ve learned about how to make our CSA work for us:
  • Assess all fruits and veggies for ripeness as soon as you open the box. Start eating the ripe fruits and veggies right then and there… :)
  • Organic herbs and lettuce do not keep very long. Eat them the day you get them if possible.
  • Put herbs you can’t use right away in a glass of water in the fridge.
  • Write down how you’ll use each item in the box. It’s too easy to “lose” fruits and veggies in the fridge.
  • Oftentimes, you are able to check online what will be in your CSA box. This is a great way to plan ahead. We actually have this option, but I never do this as I like to be surprised… It’s like getting lots of presents whenever I open the box…
  • The price you pay is fair, but not every box may seem “worth it.” However, when you average several boxes out, it’s well worth it. In other words, sometimes you may get a box and think, “I could have bought this for way less elsewhere than what I’m paying for the box.” However, oftentimes the next box includes fruits and veggies that would cost you a lot more at the Farmers’ Market. Never forget that you are supporting local farmers who are doing an outstanding job in providing you with quality produce!
  • We can choose how often we want to get a box. We are getting a box every other week, which works great for us as we enjoy shopping at different Farmers’ Markets so much. There are also different options in terms of “mostly fruit” or “mostly veggies.” Plus, when I signed up, I could eliminate fruits and/or veggies I never wanted to receive. Honestly, I didn’t mark anything as I truly don’t dislike any fruits or veggies. Plus, getting new (to me) veggies is a lot of fun.
Questions: Do you belong to a CSA? If so, how do you like it? If not, have you ever considered joining a CSA? What are you eating this weekend?
 
Be well.
Andrea

25 comments:

  1. I like that you added this: "Never forget that you are supporting local farmers who are doing an outstanding job in providing you with quality produce!" I think it's important to realize the amount of work farmers dedicate to producing and delivering the real food that arrives at your door.

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  2. I remember packing the lettuce and herbs in the CSA bags and always being frustrated by how quickly they wilt! I'd always hope the members would know to use them first. That's so wonderful that even in December you can receive CSA deliveries!

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  3. I think I've mentioned this before, but when we joined a CSA here in Ohio, our boxes of produce were not as plentiful and varied as yours! We got a ton of green beans and zucchini. We also got some corn and tomatoes, but that was about it. I was disappointed. Great tips though, in case I ever do it again. I didn't know it was good to put herbs in a glass of water in the fridge! Interesting. It makes sense though, that's what we do with celery sticks!

    Have a nice weekend Andrea! Enjoy your produce :)

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  4. I don't belong to a CSA right now, but I'd really like to! These are great tips!

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  5. i want to join one, but i fear that me being the only person to eat it would result in lots of produce thrown away. i think i need to find someone to share one with.

    great tips - i especially like the planning one! seriously, planning makes EVERYTHING easier - including grocery shopping!

    happy weekend andrea :)

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  6. My friend was talking to me about this. I think I am going to join. It would be perfect for me! Great tips. Thanks

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  7. Thanks for the tips! I love my csa, however, sometimes we find it tough with just the two of us to use all that food up, so I'm often sharing. :)

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  8. Great tips. I am so glad you have been enjoying your CSA deliveries. I love watching what you get each week and that what you make with it. We do not have that available here because I am not in the US, but the organic farm on the island is down the street and I can go there and get whatever I want.

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  9. Wow those look great! Since I live by myself, I don't know if I'd be able to eat it all in time, but they do have a lot of CSAs in my area!

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  10. Those technicolor tomatoes are almost too pretty to eat. Jealous!! ;)

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  11. That's a great idea to make a list of how you'll use the produce. We get a lot of "lost" produce in the fridge and it goes bad before I find or remember it!!

    P.S. I am super jealous of Californians who have year-round produce!

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  12. Love the photos and I think it is a great idea.

    I like to plan my meals and then shop for the things I need. I would really have to adjust to getting my box and then planning my meals around what I got.

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  13. I wish my CSA was anything close to that - but being in the midwest, I'll dream of a California CSA though!

    Great tips though :D

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  14. There are quite a few CSAs in my area but I haven't joined one...yet. I do shop my farmers market twice a month though. I'd love to try CSA!

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  15. These are some great tips, Andrea!

    I did a CSA one fall in the UK. I think we got two or three boxes before I called it quits...things were getting monotonous and the program we chose just didn't give us much flexibility. I would definitely try it again, now that we are back in sunny California :)

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  16. I don't belong to a CSA, but I just picked up some information on one in the area for fall. I'm seriously considering joining.

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  17. that sounds so cool, i'm going to have to see if there's a csa here in arizona!

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  18. Great and very informative post...thanks Andrea!

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  19. Great tips!

    We joined a co-op this year (similar to a CSA), but it hasn't been that great, sadly. Thankfully, it was relatively cheap to join so I'm sure I've at least made up the money I spent to join, but the weather here hasn't helped this summer either. We've been extremely hot and muggy and not had much rain.

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  20. this is such a great informative post, Andrea!

    I keep meaning to try and find a CSA near me, I think I would so LOVE that. My work friends grow a lot of different veggies so we kind of have a co-op at the office. I get green beans, zucchini and squashes, tomatoes and lemons on a regular basis; but more would be fun too.

    thanks!

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  21. I'm looking into joining the fall/winter CSA box program here. It's quite expensive, $300/$400, so i'm debating on what size to go with and crunching numbers. Do you have a choice of size box you receive? If so what size box do you get?

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  22. We have something like that locally with fruit. The minimum basket is $15. If i had a bigger family, perhaps, or just once a month. Compared to the 300/400 that Carla's cost i shouldn't complain. I'm just supper cheep, saving up for a home.

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  23. @Carla: Yes, I do have a choice of sizes. I get the "regular box," which includes both fruits and veggies. It's supposed to be for a family of four. We get our box on Friday morning and usually have eaten most, or all of it, by Monday evening. There is also a smaller sized box and a larger one. Plus, my CSA also has boxes with only fruits or only veggies.

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  24. I LOVE CSA boxes! The veggies are so fresh, and there is that element of surprise that I love...and you are forced to be creative! I'm taking part in a bi-weekly CSA program near by school!

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