Many CSA’s, which stand for Community Supported Agriculture, are accepting memberships but it is still early so you have plenty of time to decide whether a CSA is for you. CSA’s have many benefits, but possibly the most significant is the convenience it provides the farmer and consumer. For those interested in local, organic produce it can be the best alternative in neighborhoods where there aren’t many markets. For me, it provides consistency and I will admit I find it hard to go to the farmers market every week because my schedule is so erratic. Admittingly, a CSA isn’t for everyone and the biggest barrier is that you have to be willing to cook and work with vegetables you might have never seen before.
Below are some pros and cons to help you decide if a CSA is a good fit for you and your family.
1) Access to fresh, seasonal and organic produce at a reasonable price. Having access to high quality produce in NYC is a real blessing. Each share is filled to the brim with gorgeous seasonal vegetables, it is almost like having a garden. I find the element of surprise fun as well.
2) You are helping a local farm stay in business. The CSA model ensures that farmers receive a fair wage and can invest in his or her farm. There are risks, like after hurricane Irene when some farms were decimated and shares were prematurely ended. However, the community component of a CSA is my favorite part, it makes the vegetables more enjoyable knowing they come from a farm you are directly supporting.
3) Cooking is fun! Because each share is different you have to get creative. I look forward to each weeks share because it means I have new vegetables to “play” with.
4) Piece of mind. A CSA takes the stress out of finding healthy, nutrient dense vegetables. You know the farmer and you know that each vegetable is not only seasonal, it is also at it’s peak ripeness. It takes the anxiety out of buying vegetable.
1) Missing a drop-off. Traveling or commitments can cause you miss a drop-off, but if you have a friend or relative who can pick it up for you, it is great way to introduce them to a CSA. I give my share to my sisters when I am away and they have loved it so much that they are joining one for themselves this year.
2) You have to cook! Yes, this is a pro and a con. The vegetables come whole and unprocessed so you have to learn to cook, sometimes with unfamiliar vegetables or even vegetables you think you do not like. However, many love the challenge and added health benefits of eating a diversity of fresh organic vegetables. You might even be introduced to a new favorite you never knew existed.
3) Food waste. It can become stressful if you find yourself falling behind on utilizing all of your CSA. If you are a single person, or a couple who enjoys eating out a lot sharing the CSA with a neighbor is advisable. Also, don’t be shy about giving away vegetables you don’t think you will use. People love the offer and it introduces them to your local CSA.
4) Cost. CSA’s are a big upfront fee, usually over 500 dollars, but because it stretches out over 28 weeks, each share averages around 25 dollars, which means that you save money in the end. Truthfully, you will only save money if you utilize the CSA. Sharing it might be the best way to start out to see if it is a good fit for your family!
This was first published on Jux by me!