CSA and I

Sunday, June 06, 2010 Posted by Dina N

Earlier this year, we bought our first CSA share. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and for a preset amount payable in advance, you get a share of what the farm is producing every week. We got a 10-week share for $200. Yesterday was our first pick up! I was psyched that we are getting fresh produce straight from a farm and supporting locally grown so directly. No pesticides, no chemical fertilizers, and no plastic packaging, either! Besides, small-time farming is hard work, full of risks, and I am proud that we get to participate, albeit in a small way.

So we went to the farmer's market, bright and early, and found our farmers. They were very nice, gave us a large paper bag full of vegetables, and we continued shopping for fruit, homemade cheese, salsa and honey. I just love the farmers market! Every spring, I can't wait for that first week when it opens.The sights, the smells, the freshly squeezed lemonade stand, I love them all! My kids have a blast every time we go, tasting a few samples, stuffing their faces with huge chocolate chip cookies, asking questions about everything.

We had a great time as usual, and then headed home to check out the CSA package. That turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. You see, when you sign up for a CSA share, you basically buy a cat in a bag. You don't know what you are getting each week, and it might be a great surprise, or just happen to be something you don't care for.

Here is what $20 got us: a small bunch of carrots, a bunch of what looked like radishes but turned out to be beets, a bunch of kale, a head of lettuce, and a tiny bunch of broccoli. What seemed like a full bag dwindled by half after we trimmed the leaves from the carrots and beets. We had to throw out some of the carrots and beets because they had turned bad. My husband hates beets anyway, and was really disappointed that they were not radishes because he can eat a mountain of those. We made a salad with everything but the kale (beets on the side, please) and polished it for dinner.

Then today, I made baked kale chips. It's a very easy recipe, all you need is olive oil and seasoning salt, tear the leaves up, season, and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees F. I think they turned out OK but the family disagrees.

So at the end, we got a bowl of salad and a bowl of kale chips for 20 bucks. The veggies were fresh and very tasty but it seems a bit steep. My husband thinks it's a waste of money but is too kind to say so, since it was my idea. He did say that the farmer was selling the same produce at the stand for what seemed like lower prices, on average. I say, let's wait and see - other weeks might be better. If not, we'll just go back to shopping at the farmer's market as usual, without prepaying for weeks in advance and limiting our choices to what the farm has that week. Honestly, I don't know how many bunches of beets my husband can tolerate...

What is your experience with CSA? Have you tried a subscription? Is it what people usually get this time of year? Please do share!

5 comments:

  1. Katie said...

    The first weeks of a CSA are always kind of skimpy. This will be my 5th summer doing it but I have the whole season...something like 20 weeks...so it all seems to even out. Not much is ready this time of year [I live in MA]. But come early August, whoo! One week we got 20lbs of tomatoes alone! So you have to kind of balance it out along the season. Give it a chance. And you will have to figure out what to do with things you've never tried or thought you didn't like. :) Nice work on the kale chips...will have to try that one!

  2. coupongeek said...

    I've been debating joining a CSA myself. I keep hearing the same things - some weeks you get less than others and it will balance out.

    I guess the fun part is that sometimes you get different veggies that you've never had before and then you get to dig up some new recipes.

    I've been debating myself if the farmer's market isn't the better way to go for my family though, since my hubby's not much of a veggie guy. :)

    Hoping your next few weeks are better for you!

    Jaycie

  3. Pricilla said...

    We plant a HUGE garden so we don't do CSA but I live the life of eating what comes in when and then eating what the garden grows all winter long. And our garden grows green beans. Lots and lots and lots of green beans. I LIKE them but I don't LOVE them like I love broccoli and cauliflower which the garden hands to us like it is gold.

    Oh well. At least like you, I know it was produced VERY locally and without pesticides.

    I pickle the beets for my hubby. I hate the suckers.

  4. Julia said...

    I dont belong to a CSA but I extensively researched it. You seem to get more than your moneys worth in late july and august, but until them - hardly worth it. Most of the veggies I dont like - so I decided it wasnt for me and I will just do farm market shopping.
    Also, if you get more kale search up a recipe for zuppa tuscana (I have the recipe on my blog recipe page http://thatsmybabybunny.blogspot.com ) it is soooooooo good!

  5. Anne J said...

    We've done a CSA the past two years, and it does vary a lot. The first year we got great veggies, but last year it was a tough growing season around here and we didn't get as much. We got kale or swiss chard almost every week, and my kids grew to dread it. This year the farms around here have a program where they post what they have available on a website on Friday with prices and you place an order by Monday at noon. Then the food is brought to a central distribution location on Tuesday for pick up. I'm going to try that this year, and order about $20 worth of stuff each week. We probably won't get as many veggies, but at least it will be ones I know we'll eat.

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