The Spicy Meatball

How to Buy Local Produce by Joining a CSA

Recently I listened to Jillian Michaels' podcast on iTunes, and she spoke about something I had never heard before: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). In her discussion about buying and eating locally, Michaels mentioned this program that supports local farmers and provides fresh, local produce to consumers. Lately, I have been thinking about ways that I can help to reduce my carbon footprint while eating better, so I thought I would check out the website she recommended and possible give this CSA thing a try. According to localharvest.org, "Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season." Sounded like a great idea to me, so I researched a few of the local farmers from my region and contacted one about joining their CSA. For $250 I receive a bag full of produce once a week for 10 weeks. The price seemed a little steep for me initially, but then I thought about how quickly I drop $250 on crappy food and decided to take a leap of faith.   The benefits of joining the CSA are that all you have to do is send the check and pick up your goodies. Most of the farmers that participate in CSA's drop off shares at a local farmer's market, which makes it super convenient for me because my local farmer's market is only about three miles from my house. This week was the first time I received my first share. It included green beans, lettuce, strawberries, zucchini, cabbage, scallions, and chives. Not too shabby. I opened my bag and dove in to try a little bit of everything. I have to admit, I was a little bit shocked at how small everything was, but then I remembered we haven't seen sun in Ohio for quite sometime. Kind of an essential ingredient for growing plants. Turns out, the produce (albeit small) is tasty, fresh, and a great variety. Additionally, you can tell the farmer really cares about their produce and about their customer as each product was individually wrapped and tucked nicely into a tote bag making it easy to transport. Overall, I am glad I made the decision to try a CSA share. I am looking forward to all the goodies I'll receive for the next few weeks. Hopefully the sun will shine! If you're interested in buying locally and skipping the produce aisle at the grocery, check out a local CSA and let me know how it goes!

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