Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Getting Started with a CSA

The process of getting started with a CSA is very simple. The key steps are as follows:
  1. Find a CSA farm in your area. I found our CSA farm, Two Small Farms, through the Local Harvest website.

  2. Contact a few farms and compare their programs. The factors we used to make our choice were frequency of the shares (boxes of food), convenience of connecting with the food, farming practices, such as organic or not, variety of food, and of course, cost. We pick up a box of fruits and vegetables once a week at a house one-half mile from our own.

  3. Try it out! Many farms offer a short term trial. Taking advantage of such a trial gives you the ability to check out the volume and quality of food. Two Small Farms offers a four week trail, which we found very useful.

  4. Change the way you think about eating. I used to eat what I craved regardless of season. With a CSA, you eat what is ready when it is ready. You can of course augment the seasonal food with whatever you like, but you still have seasonal food to consume.

  5. Adjust your existing shopping habits. I used to plan and shop on Sundays. With a CSA, this did not work as the contents of the box weren't always available to plan around. I got in the habit of keeping staples on hand and stopping at a market for any bits needed to complete a meal around the contents of the box.

  6. Adjust your cooking habits. Fresh food is perishable, some more than others. You will need to take a look at what is in the box and use the most perishable items first.
Our first few weeks with our share were challenging.
  • There was a lot of food, some of which one or both of us did not normally eat. We sadly tossed as much as we ate till we got the hang of it. We started eating new things, we learned new ways to store food and to prepare food for long term storage and we learned to share our food with family and friends.
  • We are busy people who were used to eating in restaurants five nights a week. Cooking can feel like work, not to mention doing dishes. It took a while for us to fully appreciate what this meant. The time commitment, the absence of service, and the responsibility. The personal satisfaction, the enjoyment of the food itself, and the privilege. We changed the way we think about eating and now see cooking as self-care, not a chore.

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