A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) requires customers (shareholders essentially) to pre-pay for a season of veggies.. and in some cases, meat, eggs or even bread.
Not all CSAs require a prepaid subscription, however.. some of them may allow you to pay by the week.
CSAs are growing in popularity – it’s a very rewarding and fulfilling relationship between farm and consumer. I absolutely love being part of a CSA, and I am certain that others do, because every week when I pick up I see more people there doing the same.
So Why Choose a CSA?
When it’s so incredibly easy to just head to the local grocery store, why would anyone want to be part of a CSA? After all, it’s so much less hassle to just pick up the things you know your kids will love & be happy with, right?
The truth is, kids really will eat most everything – provided you allow them the opportunity to. In many cases, kids follow their parents recommendations – so if you avoid eating something, then they likely will too. But if you welcome everything, then they will do the same.
Being part of a CSA helps you form an incredible relationship with your food… it also has several other benefits as well:
Helps you try new things: If you have been a lettuce and potato lover your whole life, but you haven’t tried red beets, or golden beets, then you might just find yourself falling in love with a new food. Don’t be scared by bold colors & flavors you haven’t had yet.
Sometimes, when you buy your produce at the store, you stick with the same stuff, week in and week out, because you are certain your children won’t eat (Broccoli), or (Butternut Squash).
The truth is, kids really are resilient, and they really WILL eat anything… unless of course you have the mindset that they won’t.
Better quality produce: Your CSA bag is a collection of local, organic produce – from your local area. In many cases, the lettuce is picked up that morning – the spinach might even be picked that same day too. It’s not being trucked in from another state, or even hours away. It’s not picked days before, and kept on a truck – it’s fresh, organic produce, grown without pesticides, by farmers local to your area.
Produce that’s in season: One of the most unique things you earn as part of a CSA is that produce runs in seasons – sure, you can pick up anything you want at the grocery store, Produce is seasonal, making the time you have with it a little more special.
Not to mention it helps you learn how to preserve what you can – starting with Homemade Veggie Broth made in your Instant Pot.
Allows you to develop a meal plan: This bag can be a wonderful and effective way to meal plan for the week – if you are willing to think ahead into perusing the internet for recipes. Give the bag lots of thought – what do you plan on making over the next week? Putting in your kids lunches? If you head out to get your bag, plan accordingly – come right home to tuck the veggies in the fridge – because your farmer took considerable care in planting and harvesting those vegetables for you.
Our CSA tells us on Friday what’s coming in the coming week – I then spend time planning our meals for the week that revolve around our CSA bag, taking weekends and out of town trips into consideration. Determine how to use the bounty of your bag so you don’t have to rely on the grocery store or warehouse to fill in gaps.
Reinforces healthy eating: Since we pick up our bag on Wednesdays, our meals revolve around our CSA share – it has always worked out.
And I just love having the challenge of creating meals out of our CSA share every week, perhaps stuff we wouldn’t have normally tried. It’s impossible to eat processed food and junk when you open your fridge and see Butternut Squash or Sweet Peppers staring at you – it also pushes you to eat MORE of that type of food because it’s easier, cheaper, and just overall, more satisfying.
Realize that being part of a CSA is a commitment: A great CSA will work incredibly hard to provide quality produce each week. It’s our responsibility to understand that items are seasonal, and farming is also risky business, too.
Unlike the produce protected from the supermarket infrastructure, local farmers take a great deal of care in ensuring their produce is pesticide free, fresh, and healthy for those who appreciate local, farm to table efforts.
Looking to get involved with a CSA?
Here in Phoenix we are fortunate to have several CSA’s — I’m in the East Valley so the two that pop up first in mind are Taste of Paradise and Desert Roots Farm.
Taste of Paradise – a local Phoenix CSA with locations all around the East Valley to include Scottsdale. You can order one time or as a regular repeat customer – and choose between full or half share. You will receive a weekly bag of produce that will contain 8 pre-selected varieties of locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables. The produce will vary each week and throughout the seasons, and will come in multiple pounds and quantities.
Desert Roots Farm – another local Phoenix CSA with pick up or delivery available; they have 15+ Valley wide pick up locations and you can opt from a full or half share.
The two noted above are just a few of the CSA’s available in Phoenix – we have many more here locally. You can see a larger list CSA’s for Phoenix HERE.