A CSA or Community-Supported Agriculture, is an alternative, locally based economic model of agriculture and food distribution. CSA members (subscribers), pay at the onset of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest; once harvesting begins, they periodically receive shares of produce. In addition to produce, some CSA services may include additional farm products like honey, eggs, dairy, fruit, flowers and meat. Some CSAs provide for contributions of labor in lieu of a portion of subscription costs.
Once a week when I pickup our box I'm always eager to see what's inside. There are so many reasons to love this idea:
1) Personal Relationship: You actually know the people growing your food! Our awesome CSA always tries to make themselves available for a phone call or e-mail. They personally plant, care for and harvest the vegetables! They even host farm days when you can go out and see the crop and even get your hands dirty and help! You don't get this at the super market.
2) The price: I was quickly blown away at the price difference. At the supermarket, I was spending between $60-$120 on vegetables a month (or $15-$30 a week). While you pay for the CSA upfront, my CSA ends up working out to be $12.50/week.
3) Certified Organic: Organic products cost even more at the grocery store while our CSA is 100% certified organic. It provides comfort knowing your food is safe and is grown right down the road.
4) Diet: It forces you to eat healthy! When you have a box full of vegetables, that you've already paid for, you feel like you have to eat right.
5) Exploration: One of my favorite things about the CSA is discovering new food! There is always something new that I've never tried and I'm eager to check it out. I used to get bored with the same old vegetables but now its an adventure!
6) Community: Its also feels good to know that your money is going right back into the local economy and not off to some giant parent company based hundreds of miles away. It feels right!
Long live the American farmer!