Reduce your carbon footprint.
Bell peppers from Venezuela, cucumbers from Spain, beef from Argentina, garlic from China. This is the global food system that we live in today and the carbon footprint of the food we eat gets larger and larger every year. An “organic” label doesn’t mean food is good for environment when it’s been flown halfway around the world and has been grown using industrial methods. When you purchase a CSA share, you are instantly cutting your carbon footprint on the environment because the food you are eating traveled a short distance to get to you and required less machinery to grow. Many small scale farms center all of their growing practices on helping and healing the environment, and finding ways to grow more food with a positive impact on the planet. Choosing local is always the best option.
With CSAs, the cost of the share is upfront, which can sometimes make the investment feel daunting and costly, but if you break it down, $20 a week is actually very low to feed your entire family. Think about your last big trip to the grocery store and what the total ended up being. Now think of how much of the food you bought was healthy, nutrient dense, quality food. The truth is that we often give into impulse buys in the grocery store which quickly adds up, and we’re left with a big bill and a bunch of snacky junk food. By cutting out the middleman and buying food directly from a local farm, the veggies in a CSA share are priced below market value, its a no-brainer.
Expand your veggie repertoire.
Kohlrabi, celeriac, daikon, rutabaga, and the list goes on. I don’t know about you, but people tend to stick to their good ol’ standard shopping list when it comes to produce, and anything unfamiliar (or unpronounceable) is daunting. CSA shares open up a world of new vegetables to you and seeks to test your boundaries in the veggie world. Each box is a treasure trove of new flavors to discover. You won’t believe what you’ve been missing out on for all of these years.
There’s a reason the tomatoes you buy in the grocery store in March taste like absolutely nothing. If you think about it, eating seasonally makes a lot of sense nutritionally. Different vegetables come into season throughout the year, offering distinctly different colors, nutrients and flavors to your diet. Humans aren’t meant to eat the exact same food every day; diversity and quality is everything when it comes to good nutrition as it ensures you’re getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Plus eating seasonally just tastes so much better, you wouldn’t believe the difference in flavor.
Clean up your diet.
Most Americans eat conventional meat and some form of processed food for every meal of the day. Having a refrigerator full of vegetables calling your name all season will vastly change the makeup of your dinner plate. Instead of packing in the processed foods and low quality meats, your rainbow of fresh veggies will push out the unhealthy options. It will also help you find value in the quality of your food, and can help rewrite your relationship with everything you eat. If you eat meat, treat it like a delicacy and buy it from another local farm, and let the veggies do the rest of the heavy lifting in your diet.
Get adventurous in the kitchen.
Most farms will offer cooking inspiration along with your CSA share. Never cooked ratatouille before? Well it’s super easy and all of the ingredients come into season at the same time. The diversity of food you will receive each week creates a lot of enthusiasm about food and will motivate you to cook more, experiment more and want to learn more about cooking. It’s also a great opportunity to involve your kids in the process and have them learn right along side you.
Know what’s in (and on) your food.
These days it’s incredibly hard to know and trust what is in the food we are eating. Packaged food has ingredients lists the length of a New Yorker article and even vegetables are pumped with chemicals and gases that endanger our health and the health of our environment. Getting your food from one source, and a source you trust, clears the air of any caution you may have. You’ll personally know the people growing your food, and if you pick up your share on-farm, you’ll see the food growing with your own eyes. Interested in the practices used to grow the food in your CSA share? Ask your farmer! Any farmer would be eager to share with you their methods and principles in farming if you want to know more.
Build your community.
Farms are more than places that grow and sell food, they are run by people who have investment in the wellbeing and prosperity of their community. When you become a member of a CSA, you join a larger movement of people who care about their community, the environment and food. You’ll meet your neighbors, be invited to farm events and feel meaningfully engaged with your surroundings. Communities are built around the love of food and nothing brings people together like the joy of growing, cooking and eating.
Simplify your week.
It’s easy to get in a rut with your weekly menu planning. When you’re given high quality ingredients and the inspiration, all you have to do is cook and eat! CSA shares also cut down your time food shopping since all you have to do is grab your CSA share and go.
Support local farms.
This one is obvious since the name says it all, CSAs are all about supporting local agriculture. Small farms don’t have it easy, and are constantly seeking ways to stay afloat amidst a system that tends to work against them. Government subsidies favor large profit-driven industrialized farms growing corn and soy, not the small three acre farm down the road growing veggies. By purchasing a share at the beginning of the season you are allowing a small farm to do what they do best: feed your community and be good stewards of the land. Plus you get the satisfaction in knowing that you’re helping your local economy thrive.