Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Why I love CSA

I recently signed up for a share in a CSA, which stands for Community supported Agriculture. For a seasonal subscription fee, I get a basket every week of fresh, naturally grown vegetables from a local farm. The contents of the basket change week to week based on what's coming up at the time.

At about $25 a week, it may not at first seem like the most frugal choice for me. I don't typically spend that much on fresh produce; it's nearly half of my weekly grocery budget. I probably won't save any money on food by having it However, there are a lot of reasons why I consider this to be a good choice for me, and why it may even save money in the long term.

1. Community. When I picked up my share yesterday, the owner of the CSA offered me homemade lemonade from a pitcher on her kitchen table and then walked me back to show me her garden. I played with her dog and met her kids while she clipped me herbs right off the plant and asked what kind of peppers I liked. I feel much better about buying produce from someone whose dog I've played with than from a huge corporation.

2. Better food. The produce I get is organically grown and locally produced. I know this because I've seen it. It's also in my hand within 4 days of when it comes off the plant. This is the absolute best way to maximize the nutritional content of my vegetables (thus making me healthier, one say it saves money) and also the taste - oh my the taste. Tomato basil salad is practically a spiritual experience.

3. Variety and abundance. A share is really too much for my husband and me, so we are always able to share (hmm, pun unintended) with our friends. In the past, when we had farm subscriptions, we've had more dinner parties and meal swaps because we had stuff we just needed to use up. We're also much more likely to eat more vegetables because we have them, and to eat things we might not normally buy. In this way, we eat less processed food and meat which saves us money in the long term and short term.

4. Environmentalism. Supporting CSA, and buying local food in general, is one of the best ways to reduce your eco-footprint. Transportation of food uses an awful lot of fossil fuel and puts a lot of carbon into the atmosphere. By buying local, you avoid that. I also am using my dollar to support farming practices in my local community that I believe in, thus encouraging them to increase. Plus, I am extremely fortunate in that my CSA offers lower cost shares and donates to local food charities, thus encouraging food justice which is so important to me.

If you are interested in joining a CSA, check out Local Harvest, which is how I found mine.


Donna Freedman said...

Great read! I'm linking to it on the Smart Spending blog today (July 3) in the hopes that folks will consider spending some of that economic stimulus check on food that matters.

LoveandSalt said...

My CSA has given me the impetus to put more food up as well, learning ways to preserve the harvest. This makes it MUCH more affordable as well when I consider that I can freeze, dry, can, or root cellar some of the surplus.