When I first heard about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs I was so thrilled! Finally a way for people in urban areas to benefit of fresh, organic produce that comes directly from local, small and sustainable farms, just the way I like it! It is actually the BEST thing to look after when shopping for food.
Localharvest is a great resource to find such CSAs in your area and sign up for a program. I’ve been knowing about this for a while but haven’t gotten around it until now, plus I wasn’t sure about some aspects. You actually can’t know for sure what you get until you sign up and wait for your first order. Some CSAs will send you whatever grows in season without the possibility to modify your order, some have quantity limits, some are kind of expensive, some are not certified organic… BUT! I want so badly to get out of the “corporative system” and have my food come from sustainable farmers instead – people that I know and trust and offer quality, nourishing food. So I am continuously on the look for the perfect solution to fit my family, my nutritional requirements and my budget! Also, I wanted to practically see how this system is compared to the farmer’s markets and health food stores.
Last week I went to the Health Fair in Seal Beach where I was happy to notice that FarmFreshToYou.com had a booth, one of the CSAs I’ve read about! Actually, I was so happy to find them there I almost hugged the man behind the booth! Their presence was like a breeze of fresh air compared to all the other way too western medicine oriented companies that were present. Happy to have met another like-minded individual and we started to speak the same language: sustainability, small scale farming, fresh organic produce, “know your farmer, know your food” ….So I was easily convinced after 10 minutes and signed up for a program.
Today I got my delivery which was quietly left by my door before 8 AM!
For $31.50 (I paid $25 with the discount offered with the first delivery) I got the following:
4 PINK LADY APPLES
4 GOLD NUGGET MANDARINES
2 HASS AVOCADOS
1 lb STRAWBERRIES BERRIES
1 bunch LEEKS
1 head RADICCHIO
1 bunch CARROTS
1 assorted bunch CHARD
1 LEAF LETTUCE
Everything looked fresh and nice, no blemishes, no rotten pieces. The leeks were kind of dirty BUT sometimes that’s how leeks are and you can’t possibly clean them well unless you start chopping them. And to be honest, I’ll take fresh dirty leeks anytime over plastic packaged grocery vegetables that come from Mexico!
I already cooked part of the leeks; I sauteed them in butter and olive oil, added some tomato sauce and kalamata olives. Delicious!! It reminded me of my mother and grandmother, since they used to make me this kind of Greek dish.
My daughter finished already half of the strawberry pack and she said they were very tasty. I’m looking forward to find nice menus to incorporate the rest of the veggies.
Now, let’s talk about money…I did a comparison between how much I would pay for this kind of food at a health food store like Whole Foods or Sprouts. It is around $21. So cheaper than what I payed at FarmFreshToYou with the discount included. Compared to the farmer’s market, it’s about the same price, only at the farmer’s market not all produce is certified organic.
Now when we compare foods like that we also have to consider very important aspects like:
1. GAS you spend shopping around
2. TIME that everybody is short of these days, especially full time workers
3. FRESHNESS – produce in stores stay on the shelves for weeks, even months and storage conditions are not always optimal
4. BUYING LOCAL – produce in stores travel many more miles, and they often come from out of state
5. QUALITY – small sustainable farms simply provide better quality and dispose of healthier farming conditions than larger conventional or even organic farms. They might also use questionable fertilizers.
6. FARM VISITING – hard to enjoy when buying from a grocery store, easy to achieve when buying from a CSA that actually encourages you to come visit and see how your food is grown.
Bottom line: for people that can afford it and don’t have the time to shop around, paying $31.50/ month for what I got in this delivery (or more for a bigger package) might be as well worth it. You can’t go wrong with it.
In my and my family’s case, we decided to organize monthly trips to local farms and stock up on produce. We did the same 2 months ago when we went to Glendale, an Organic Pastures hub, and bought meat, milk, cheese, butter, cream, almonds and now after 2 months we still eat out of it ! A LOT of food keeps really well in the freezer! For us it would be more convenient to visit a farm and benefit of the whole “package”: getting in touch with sustainable farmers, connect with the land, participate at farm events (by the way, many of them offer now exciting activities like live music, picnicking, arts, crafts, harvest activities, etc), stock up on healthy food, come back home with nice memories and prepare everything to last for another month. Overall, it’s a higher price you pay initially, but you get so much more and the produce will be cheaper per pound! Plus, I cook everything from scratch, three meals a day, and I need LOTS of veggies, meat and fruits daily!
I am excited about this new plan and if any of you is interested to get some food this way, let me know. I also hope you’ll give FarmFreshToYou a chance and try their program, it might work perfectly for you!