I talk a lot about my CSA box here. CSA subscriptions are growing in popularity, as the real food and organic food movements are on the rise. My sister, Janssen was the one who turned me on to them, and I have now had one on and off for several years.
In case you don't know what a CSA subscription is, let me tell you. First off, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Farmers need money to run their farms. When you sign up for a CSA subscription, you typically choose to a period of time (this time, I chose 10 weeks, and I get my box every other week), and pay up front for the subscription. This guarantees that the farmer sells some vegetables outside of whatever they can sell at a farmer's market. And you get a box of locally grown (in my case, organic) vegetables and herbs. Win-win.
Now there are a few concerns that a lot of people have about getting a CSA box. Understandably so, really. My experience has been pretty positive, and at this point in my subscription, I really look forward to picking up my box.
Here are a few things that I love about getting a CSA:
1. I see my CSA box as an opportunity to grow my tastebuds a little. We have gotten a lot of vegetables that I didn't love. Some that I downright hated. But, with time, and trying new recipes, I have come to enjoy eating (or at least tolerating, in some cases) vegetables that I used to despise. I feel like my palate has grown up significantly since we joined a few years ago, and I am thrilled. It has been a long process, but I think it has been worth it.
2. I feel obligated to eat lots of vegetables. I actually really like vegetables. A large salad is one of my favorite lunches, and I regularly seek out vegetarian food. Despite this, I still struggle to eat a lot of vegetables. According to a number of articles that I saw online, the general consensus among nutritionists is that most people should be eating 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day. I may not hit this everyday, but I certainly do a lot better when we have tons of veggies around the house that I paid good money for. Also, eating lots of organic vegetables totally feels like an investment in my future.
3. It forces me to be creative at meal time. I run a food blog, so I obviously try to be creative at mealtimes no matter what, but I have to be extra creative to find ways to use up squash, collard greens, turnips and arugula for dinner all in one week. And I take that challenge seriously and try not to waste anything.
4. I am supporting my local community. The last few years, I have been trying to put my money where my mouth is. I am not always great at doing this, but I feel strongly about supporting my community, and reducing shipping pollution, so I feel great about getting vegetables locally. Also, the vegetables are much fresher, because they got picked two days before I pick them up, rather than two weeks before I picked them up, like at the grocery store.
5. I am saving money on organic produce. Sometimes I feel like organic produce is one giant racket. Another way for the food industry to make a mountain of money off of us consumers. Organic produce can be so expensive. I try to buy organic when I can, and buying from a CSA means that I get a sort of discount on the produce that I buy. It is cheaper than buying individual items from the farmer's market, and it is usually less expensive than buying from the grocery store. The trade off is that I don't get to pick the items that come in the box.
6. I love the farm that I buy from. They have an incredible website with detailed photos of what will be coming in your box (vital for my menu planning), an easy way to swap out 2 or 3 items you don't want (I always get rid of the eggplant if I can) for items you do want, and they have a delivery stop just up the road from my apartment.
7. I really love having lots of vegetables on hand to use and photograph. There are few things I like to photograph more than fresh vegetables. I love having a gorgeous cabbage or rainbow chard to photograph every week. It is fun and super fulfilling for me.
I am not an expert about the CSA box, but I have done one for 2 years now, and I love it. If you have more specific questions, please feel free to ask! I would be happy to answer them!