If you love to cook and can’t get enough fresh produce, a community supported agriculture (CSA) membership might be the perfect way to get fruits and veggies into your kitchen every week. With spring around the corner, CSA season is about to be in full swing. Here’s the lowdown on CSAs and a few tips to help you get started.
What is a CSA?
CSAs, or community supported agriculture groups, are people who come together to purchase shares of a farm. Most CSA members pay upfront for their share, with prices ranging from $300 to more than $600 per season. In exchange, CSA members receive a weekly shipment of produce throughout the growing season, typically from late spring to early fall.
How Joining a CSA Can Help You Eat Healthier
- You get fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables – and a lot of them. Some CSAs give you the option to order smaller or larger boxes, but in general, expect to receive loads of produce, especially towards the end of the growing season.
- Seasonal finds can motivate you to try new things. Do you tend to buy the same foods during your weekly grocery trip? If so, a CSA membership can help you shake things up and inspire you to try new recipes.
- Eating a variety of produce means you’ll get a variety of nutrients. Plus, produce at the peak of its freshness offers the best source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- CSA-sponsored farms often use sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices. This may not directly influence your health, but can be a bonus if you’re passionate about sustainable food systems.
What to Consider Before You Join
- Will I be home to cook? If you eat out or travel frequently, or just don’t like to cook every day, a CSA membership might overwhelm you with more produce than you can use. If you’d still like to join, consider sharing your membership with a friend or neighbor.
- What’s my budget? Some CSAs cost upward of $600 per growing season, which you’d likely need to pay upfront. Keep in mind that the amount and quality of produce you’ll get depends on how well the growing season goes. If it’s a light season or if there’s a pest problem, you may not get your money’s worth.
- What are the CSA’s policies? Many CSAs deliver the produce to your front door, but others require you to pick it up. Some CSAs also ask that you volunteer your time to support the co-op.
How to Make the Most of Your CSA Goods
- Cook seasonally to make the most of your CSA’s offerings. For culinary inspiration, check out our seasonal recipe collection.
- Explore ethnic cuisines to discover new ways to season vegetables. Try our Asian or Mediterranean recipe collections, which have plenty of veggie-packed meal ideas.
- Find new ways to add produce to your meals. Here are three recipe collections to help you get started:
How to Find a CSA
Here are a few websites to help you find a CSA in your area:
Have you joined a CSA before? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.