To know your food, sometimes you have to speak the language.
CSA: An abbreviation standing for “Community-supported agriculture.” A relatively new socio-economic model of food production, sales, and distribution aimed at both increasing the quality of food and the quality of care given the land, plants and animals – while substantially reducing potential food losses and financial risks for the producers. It is also a method for small-scale commercial farmers and gardeners to have a successful, small-scale closed market. CSA’s focus is usually on a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables, sometimes also flowers, fruits, herbs and even milk or meat products in some cases. A variety of production and economic sub-systems are in use worldwide.
Why it matters: By subscribing to a CSA, you guarantee local farmers a market for their produce. You promise to buy it as long as they supply it. It’s an excellent way to eat locally AND seasonally, both of which will dramatically decrease the miles (and gas required) to get food to your table. Your box will only contain produce that is currently in season in your region. You may not know how to cook a parsnip (yet), but when it shows up in your weekly box, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly.
What to look for: If you want to learn more about CSAs in your area, head over to LocalHarvest.org and type in your zip code for programs that serve your community. Make sure you pick a program that will work for you. CSAs usually have a weekly schedule of pickups or drop offs and will allow you pick the size of your produce box. If you’re concerned about growing techniques, just ask- the growers will be happy to answer!