Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Community-Supported Agriculture

Last summer, Josh and I went through this stretch of time where we were watching a lot of food documentaries because there were a lot of them streaming on Netflix. We started seeing things about the food market that we weren't really comfortable with. We decided to start shopping as locally as possible [[with a few exceptions.]] We found a small-ish produce stand a little ways from our apartment and started buying our produce there, that way we were sure it was in season and that we were paying a fair price for it.

That's when we stumbled across the idea of joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. A CSA is a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here's how it works: Before the start of a farming season, a farmer pre-sells shares of food to the members. Then, each week during the season, the members receive a box of whatever produce is currently available.

CSA's usually supply vegetables, but can also include other farm products. A few of the ones we've seen:
  • Chicken and Eggs
  • Ground Beef and Eggs
  • Milk
  • Breads and Pastries
You can find a CSA in your area here. We used this tool, and came across a CSA in Bloomington through  Brown's Farms. The membership cost $250 for the year, but if you look at how much you would be spending in a store for an equal amount of veggies, it's really a better deal. Plus, you get the satisfaction that comes from supporting families in your community and knowing that the food you receive is nutritional and local.
We were too late to join in for the 2011 season, so we anxiously awaited the coming of spring 2012. It was a long wait, but when we went to the farm to pick up our first basket, it was well worth it! Our first basket contained Spinach, two kinds of lettuce, green onions, three kinds of radishes and turnips. I could hardly wait through the car ride home to dig into the basket! [[But knew it would be wise to wait because, really who wants a mouth full of dirt? Not this girl...]]

Our most recent pick-up.
 As the weeks have passed, we have enjoyed trying some new vegetables that we otherwise wouldn't have tried. My favorite example has to be kohlrabi. Most people haven't heard of it and definitely wouldn't know what to do with it. Thankfully, our farmers know all of the ins and outs of how to prepare their crops.
So...the whole reason for this post. I really want to raise awareness of this beautiful service that a lot of local farmers provide. What better way to enrich your community and your families than supporting local farmers in this way? I really encourage you to do some research into CSA's that are available in your area and consider joining one.

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