With the winter weather bearing down, it might not be fresh on your mind to consider where your summer's produce will be coming from — but you should! It's the time of year to think about making some adjustments to last year's food supply and consider signing up for a local community supported agriculture program, or CSA. This arrangement can provide you with a convenient way to keep your fridge stocked with fresh, local food all season long.
Of the many benefits of signing up for a CSA, perhaps one of the most exciting is the culinary adventures it can lead you to experience. Many members get introduced to new vegetables they have never cooked, and maybe have never even eaten. Opening up a mixed bag of the freshest produce available from farms in your area sounds like Christmas to me — and it comes every week! You'll be surprised to find how creative you can be when the third week of tomato season rolls around or you look up another kale recipe, exploring new ways to enjoy the products that come out of your local soil. (This is the same reason CSA arrangements don't work for everyone — commonly known as "greens fatigue".)
Monetarily, CSAs also help share the burden of upfront investment between producers and consumers. Members invest at the beginning of the season, sharing in the risks farmers usually take on by themselves. There are a myriad of arrangements, and you can search Local Harvest's site to find an option that works for you in your neck of the woods.
Folks new to the CSA idea, or who are interested but just aren't sure what all it entails, can watch this great video entitled on what to expect when you join a CSA program.
Have you signed-up for a CSA before, or are you thinking about it for this year? Share your thoughts and experiences below
Jennifer Kongs is the Managing Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. When she’s not working at the magazine, she’s likely working in her garden, on the local running trails or in her kitchen instead. You can find Jennifer on Twitter or Google+.