We took a big step in our household this week - we joined a CSA! Let me tell you all about it, Internets. What is a CSA, exactly? The acronym stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and this is the way it made most sense to me: We're giving to the farmer up front the money he/she needs to run his/her business for the season - buy feed, buy seeds, make repairs to the equipment, hire workers, etc. Then, as the crops are harvested, we receive our share of that investment in the form of nummy, nummy foods. There's a local coalition of CSA farms (MACSAC) that organizes the member farms and holds an open house every March so people can meet and greet the farmers. Wyl and I went to that open house a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed ourselves. There was a presentation for newcomers to CSAs that really struck a chord with us - there are so many reasons to join a CSA.
1. Mr. PW and I, over the course of our marriage and making a home together, have come to realize that we have definite economic opinions. As he put it so well, "we're angry at people who make themselves rich off the backs of people just trying to survive". We will not support that way of life if at all possible. Joining a CSA is a way to live more in line with that philosophy; we're voting with our food dollars that we value family farmers, we value fair pay for fair work, we value organic agriculture, and we do not support the factory food industry. By joining a CSA, we are cutting out all the economic middlemen and making sure our money goes straight to where it should - the farmer.
2. We're also cutting out the nutritional middlemen. Every CSA farm in MACSAC, including the one we chose, is certified organic.Each farm is either the sole producer or the vast majority producer of the food in their shares; when they bring in say, potatoes, or cheese, from another farm, that farm is also certified organic. By choosing a CSA, we're cutting out plastic packaging, processing, chemicals, preservatives, and time when food can lose nutrients. We're going to get exceptionally fresh and pure produce on our table.
3. By joining a CSA, we're going to be eating more seasonally, more locally, and we're going to be stretching ourselves culinarily! The example everyone gives is kohlrabi - what the heck to do with that? Well... we're going to find out.From June to October, we're going to receive (in season) the following fruits and vegetables: asparagus, green beans, wax beans, purple beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, melons, red onions, white onions, yellow onions, peas, peppers, red, white and yellow potatoes, radishes, scallions, spinach, summer squash, winter squash, strawberries, sweet corn, sweet potatoes,tomatoes (all kinds) and watermelons. In addition to that, they're going to offer single-time fruit shares through the season for the first time. There's a lot of things in that list that intimidate me, and a couple of things I just don't eat. We've mitigated this concern by splitting a full share with another household of friends; we're splitting the cost and we'll split the box each week according to things each household wants.
CSAs are obviously not the best choice for everyone; if you can't pick up your share every week, if you're *ahem* a limited eater, if you're looking for uber-cheap produce (not here! Prices are comparable with the grocery store), if you don't cook. But it seems like the right choice for us, and we're excited.