Community Supported Agriculture
This year, I signed us up for the community supported agriculture program at work. CSA is a program where you pre-purchase a share of the output of a farmer. It gives guaranteed income to a family farmer and gets you a delivery of fresh produce. Each week, the farmer delivers a box of produce to a location and you pick it up. The nice thing for me is that they deliver to a parking lot at my workplace so it couldn’t be much more convenient. (I guess they could leave it on our porch, but that would be asking too much.)
There were a number of reasons for trying the program. First, my partner was always wanting for us to eat more fruits and vegetables. She feels like I mostly cook meat dishes, but I think I cook plenty of vegetables for our meals. (Yes, I do most of the cooking.) Another reason is that we had gotten into a rut of eating the same vegetables much of the time like broccoli, green beans, and butter beans. Having a variety of different fruits and vegetables in our weekly box would force us to eat other things. I figured I would also expand my repertory of recipes.
Cost was not a factor in signing up for CSA delivery. I haven’t seen an analysis or done one myself so I don’t know if we save any money. I really don’t care since it wasn’t much of a percentage of our food bill. My guess is that it was about the same cost as we were spending or slightly more expensive.
We had a selection of several farmers this Spring and I chose one that seemed to have a list of crops that we would like. We paid for a 25 week schedule which came out to $18 per week. This seemed a little expensive until I remembered how much I can spend on one trip to the farmers market. I have a $20 rule of thumb for my shopping trips there. In the past, a significant part of the farmer’s market purchases spoiled before we ate them.
We are now half way through our Summer and we have decided not to sign up again next year. We are overwhelmed with vegetables and a lot of it ends up spoiling (e.g., we have had a whole watermelon sitting for two weeks.) Also, we have found that we get a lot of some vegetables that we don’t have a good way to prepare such as hot peppers. (You really don’t need that many at one time.) We also cook less in the Summer since it is hot.
The experiment has been partly successful. We are eating many more fruits and vegetables. We do eat much of our box each week unless we are out of town. One disappointment has been the tomatoes which are not like home grown. They resemble what I have purchased in the grocery more than what I grow in our small plot. That was a disappointment, but I did have two plants in our garden that supplied us with some homegrown tomatoes. We also get some items in our box that seem like fillers such as little, tiny onions. Some of the sweet corn has been suspect and the quality has been variable week to week. Generally, it is good. We ended up with seven heads of lettuce at one time since neither of us eats much salad.
This is a good idea for those with a larger family. We have definitely expanded our vegetable intake and I have a few new recipes that we will continue to enjoy. I’ll post them on the Recipes section of the blog as they come together.