Friday, January 15, 2010
Want Local, Farm-Fresh Fruits and Veggies This Year? Now's the Time To Join a CSA!
What is a CSA, you ask? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it's a fantastic way to buy local, seasonal produce (and other items such as eggs, meat, honey, flowers, etc.) directly from a farmer. And for those of us city folk who rely on the metro, buses or scooters (yours truly), it's an easy way to skip the schlep out to the farm but still get the goods on a weekly basis!
So, here's the lowdown: Basically consumers purchase a "share" from a local farmer and in return they receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. Typically the a box consists of fruits and vegetables, but other farm products may be included such as eggs, cheese, flowers, etc.
Why this is a good thing:
Farmers receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow.
- ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
- exposure to new vegetables
- to visit the farm at least once a season
- to develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown
It's simple enough, right?
Well, there is the issue of "shared risk." It's the idea that "we're in this together" -- a concept I really like, even though it may suck for my dinner table.
If the farm had a tomato blight that year, I'll have to file away the salsa recipes. If a bear destroys the bee hives, my honey supply is shot to hell (trust me, it happens).
For me, sharing the risk helps to develop a sense of community among the members and the farmer. But if the potential for "not getting your money's worth" makes you feel anxious, then a CSA might not be for you. Instead, get down to your farmers market and buy local!
January is usually the month to buy your share. Click here to view a list of CSAs in the DC Metro area.