With local and organic food having such a high price tag, it can be hard to eat in a sustainable way. One way I've gotten around the high costs is by joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). The idea of a CSA is pretty simple — consumers pay farmers directly for a portion of their crop. It's a huge benefit to my health, and my money goes directly to a small, family-owned farm.
To give you an idea of how a CSA works, I'll use mine as an example. I pay $23 each week for enough produce to feed two people. My last box contained four Braeburn apples, four oranges, two pounds of heirloom tomatoes, one bunch of broccoli, two pounds of red potatoes, one pound of zucchini, one pound of green beans, one bunch of basil, and one head of red lettuce. All of the produce was grown on an organic farm located 90 miles from my home in San Francisco. For an additional fee I can also request organic dairy products, grass-fed meat, and Fair Trade coffee.
For tips on choosing a CSA, read more.
Although the basic idea of a CSA is the same no matter which you choose, details vary among farms. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for a CSA.
- Decide how you want your produce box delivered. Many CSAs offer home delivery, while other CSAs leave boxes at convenient pick-up points in your town or city.
- Membership is either calculated by the season or on a month-to-month basis. You'll save even more money if you can pay for the entire season at once.
- Most CSAs choose what produce they deliver each week. Don't be alarmed —recipes are usually included and you can expect the best the season has to offer, as well as staple items. There are some CSAs that will let you pick and choose specifically what you'd like in your box that week based on their crop.
- CSAs are beginning to offer much more than produce. If you are interested in meat, dairy, baked goods, and other eatables, shop around.
Visit the Local Harvest website to find a CSA near you.
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