Care2 will go offline for site maintenance July 31 at 9pm PST.
START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

5 Ways to Optimize Your CSA Experience

5 Ways to Optimize Your CSA Experience

If you haven’t signed up yet for a CSA share, now is a good time. The spring harvest is just beginning – at least in this corner of Ontario. There might be limited spaces available, but it’s well worth a try.

CSA (“community supported agriculture”) programs are a wonderful way to eat the freshest, highest quality, and most nutritious produce available in your area. They are founded on three principles: sustainability for the environment, a fair price for the people who provide the food, and a good product to be enjoyed by the community.

Since shares are paid for in advance of the harvest, a CSA program provides much-needed financial and moral support for local farmers. “By purchasing a CSA share, you commit to the viability of local agriculture and to your own food security. CSA rebuilds the relationship between farmer and community and reacquaints each with the knowledge of their mutual dependence.” (Cedar Down Farm newsletter)

Here are some good things to think about when you sign up for a CSA share:

1. Be flexible and creative

A CSA share offers a wholly different experience in eating and preparing food than shopping with a list at a grocery store. With a CSA, you must be willing to relinquish a certain degree of control over what you eat because you never know exactly what you’ll get. Meals take on a life of their own.

Fortunately most recipes are flexible, and you can easily substitute a local seasonal vegetable for an imported one. Use kohlrabi, broccoli, or cabbage instead of cauliflower. Try chard, spinach, or cabbage in place of kale. It’s hard to go wrong, though a recipe might taste different… and fresher!

2. Devise a strategy for handling extras

There will be some weeks, especially at the peak of the summer harvest, when you will wonder how it’s possible to eat that many vegetables before the next round arrives. The good news is you don’t have to. Focus on eating the produce that spoils first, such as salad greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Then wash, dice, and freeze the others to use one night when the fridge is bare. It will be a welcome taste of summer in the middle of winter.

3. Read the farm’s newsletter diligently

A good CSA farmer is involved with his or her community. Mine provides a wonderfully detailed weekly newsletter with updates about what’s happening on the farm, which crops are being planted and harvested, any complications or pest problems that might affect crops, storage tips for keeping vegetables fresh and crisp, and – most helpful of all – excellent recipes that use the (sometimes strange) vegetables in a given week’s share.

4. Visit the farm

Many farms offer guided tours throughout the summer, which is a good way to see where and how the vegetables are grown. It strengthens the relationship between consumer and farmer – always a good thing – and encourages transparency. Farm tours are a lot of fun for kids, too, especially when they realize that the same vegetables they eat at every meal come from a place they’ve visited.

5. Explore alternative CSA programs

Summertime vegetable CSA shares are the most common, but due to their tremendous success, alternative CSA programs are cropping up. I subscribe to a year-round vegetable CSA, which provides root vegetables in winter, and a grain CSA, which delivers wheat, dried beans, popcorn, bulgur, barley, cornmeal, and oats. There are meat CSA shares, seafood CSFs (“community supported fisheries”), and even local cheese CSA shares.

Start looking! Here are some links to get you started, but it’s easiest to Google CSA farms in your own area.

localharvest.org
csafarms.ca (only in Ontario)
justfood.org (New York City)
localcatch.org (seafood CSFs in USA)
offthehookcsf.ca (Atlantic Canada)
5 online sources for local organic food delivery

article by Katherine Martinko

Promo image Cedar Down Farm

Related
5 Tips for CSA Cooking
5 Fruits & Veggies for Fresh Summer Skin

Read more: Eating for Health, Food

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Kara, selected from TreeHugger

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

42 comments

+ add your own
11:11AM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

Just forwarded this article to my email so I can print and hand out.

4:20AM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

Sounds like a wonderful way to source such brilliant produce.

4:19AM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

Noted thanks

5:04AM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

Great reminder.

11:20AM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

Thank you

10:12AM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

thanks

3:41AM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

3:01AM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

Thanks

4:50PM PDT on Jun 8, 2014

Thank you for sharing.

4:44PM PDT on Jun 8, 2014

I live in the Kawarthas and I frequent the local farmer's market and some of the area farms but I've never thought of a CSA

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Cute Zeke - so glad you found your forever home through this call to 911.

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.