Choosing a CSA

CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) provide opportunities for people to eat locally, the get the kinds of foods you would normally find at local farmers markets, and to take part in the agricultural process. Most CSAs require some sort of ongoing commitment, such as a monthly fee in exchange for a weekly box of locally grown vegetables. Depending on where you live, the weekly box may include a wide assortment of mostly-root vegetables (kale, cabbage, squash, turnips in Minnesota, for example) or of anything else grown on a particular farm, in a particular climate. Many CSAs encourage their members to work at the farm for a day or more, to better understand the farming process and to get closer to local, sustainable food. Some require it. When I tell friends that I recently joined the Harmony Valley Farm CSA, they often start asking questions. Why did I join it? Am I concerned about the cost? Will I spend a bunch of extra money? Will I actually eat the foods in the box? Will my kids eat them? Will the farmers put me to work? And here's what I tell them: There are a bunch of reasons to join a CSA, including:

  • To eat better, healthier, local food.
  • To learn more about where food comes from.
  • To support local farms and farmers.
  • Because it's better for the environment

Because I want to do all of these things, joining a CSA was a no brainer. My back-of-the-napkin math suggests that I'll come out even on the vegetables, so long as I eat the stuff that comes every other week. And I'm excited by the challenge of cooking new foods, and looking forward to seeing what recipes come along with my kale. I'm also excited for the opportunity to help my kids understand what it means to eat good, local food. Maybe we'll even get to work on the farm! Here are a few things to consider when selecting a CSA: hv-farm

  • What comes in your box? Will you like the foods, know what to do with them, be open to trying new things (even if they take more time)? Am you willing to make your kids try new foods?
  • What sort of commitment is required of you? Will you need to work on the farm? Will you GET to?
  • Is the rest of your household as committed as you are? Can you eat a box of squash alone?
  • How much does it cost? Will you need to suppleent the box with all of the usual things you buy at ther grocery store, or can you sustitute?
  • How convenient is it? Is a 20 minute drive to pick up your local foods worth it? Does it undo the environmental good you were hoping to do?
  • Is it important that the food be organic? Do you want organic food, local, sustainable food, or all of the above?

My food hasn't started coming yet, but I'll keep you posted when it does.