Why Join a CSA
Ten Reasons Why Joining a CSA is a Good Idea
1) It’s cheaper than the supermarket/farmers’ market:
To illustrate this further, let’s do a cost analysis/comparison of a sample share. At full price, a weekly CSA share comes out to $24.09. Here’s what’s we project will be in the share for the week of 7/12/15:
2# of choice of greens (kale, collards, chard)
1/2# mustard salad mix
1# crystal white wax fresh onions
1 head cauliflower (1-5#)
1 head lettuce
2# heirloom tomatoes
2-3# summer squash
1#bu. rainbow carrots (1-2#)
1 bu. choice of fresh herb (cilantro, parsley, basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme, dill, sage)
So how much would this cost in a supermarket? It definitely depends on the supermarket, but here are some prices I was able to find:
The Park Slope Food Co-op probably has the best prices for fresh produce anywhere in Brooklyn (they are member-run, and so the prices are just a little bit above wholesale). Here are the prices for comparable items to the 7/12 share:
Baby Mustard Mix $8.20/lb
Heirloom Tomatoes (non-organic) $4.07
Summer Squash $2.25
Rainbow Carrots $2.32/bu
The total cost for same quantity that’s in the share would be $33.47
From what I could find on the internet, here’s what the 7/12 share might cost you at Whole Foods (with some comparable substitutions):
Mesclun Mix (6oz) $3.99
Organic Onions $3.44/lb
Heirloom Tomatoes $4.50
Summer Squash $3/lb
Organic Carrots $1.59/lb
The total here comes out to $43.17. Please don’t take my word for it though. Go to your local supermarket and do a price comparison.
2) It’s better for the environment:
Buying local means less fossil fuel usage for shipping long distances and thus less greenhouse gas emissions. Buying small-scale organic produce versus industrial produce means many things, like less topsoil erosion, less hazardous chemical run-off, more habitat for beneficial insects, birds and other wildlife and generally building up healthy soil with healthy microbial balances.
3) It’s better for the local economy:
Buying local means supporting economic activity in your region. Strong local economies are more resilient to national/global swings. CSA’s are beneficial to farmers because they cut out the middleman and the farmer can get a fair price for his/her produce without having to charge exorbitant prices. This makes farming a viable career choice and thus supports farming in your area.
4) It’s better for the food security of your region:
Being dependent on food shipped in from thousands of miles away means that we are dependant on the price/availability of oil. Oil is a non-renewable resource, and will run out one day. Hopefully, we will be able to feed ourselves by then!
5) It’s better for your health:
Produce distributed at a CSA is probably the absolute freshest produce you can get. Fresh produce is MUCH, much more nutritious than produce that is even a couple days old. I’m not sure if there’s research out there on this, but it is something that I know many people to have observed and I have definitely felt it in my own body. It is also much more likely that you will cook vegetables everyday when you are receiving large quantities of them weekly. The benefits of eating more vegetables are pretty apparent.
6) It’s good for your kids:
Kids like vegetables if you give them tasty vegetables. Getting kids eating healthy early on is very important to their long-term health and happiness.
7) You can talk to your farmer directly:
Being able to talk to your farmer means that you can find out exactly how your food is raised and how the soil, water and local wildlife are tended to. You can make suggestions of things that you’d like them to grow, or things you’d like less of. You can learn probably more than you’ll ever want to about the various challenges of farming. You can come work for a day (or two)!
8) You can try new things with little risk:
Most people do not buy things they’ve never cooked before at the grocery store because they don’t know how it’ll turn out. With a CSA, you will try new things without any additional cost. Never tried Okra? Broccoli Rabe? Fennel? Tomatillos? Rutabaga? Parsnips? Malabar Spinach? Blue Hubbard squash? Orange watermelons? Heirloom muskmelons? Well now you can!
9) It helps build community:
In NYC, most people do not know their neighbors anymore. CSA’s definitely help people build connections with each other, either just by chatting at the drop-off location or by helping each other organize events like potlucks, trips to the farm or volunteer days.
10) It tastes better:
The taste difference between produce that was picked the day before or the day of and produce that was picked even just a week before is impossible to describe, but pretty obvious once you’ve tried it.