When I mention that we joined a CSA last year, most people’s first response is “What is a CSA?”. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it is becoming a more popular way to get local, fresh, seasonal produce straight from the farmer. After our first year of CSA Membership, I find myself recommending it to friends and family, and even strangers. Our family has benefited in more ways than I can even count, but here are a few reasons that I highly recommend joining a CSA. 1. Supporting your local area farms. In a time when your local grocer’s produce aisle can contain as many countries as a world traveler’s passport, it is nice to know exactly where your produce comes from. Whether it is the farm down the road, or in the next town over, by purchasing a share in your local CSA you are supporting and sustaining your local economy. 2. Adding more greens into your diet. Most of us are guilty of not getting enough fruits and vegetables in our daily diet. Not the V8 kind, but the real, nutrient rich, antioxidant packed, fresh stuff. Before we joined our CSA, we maybe had greens once a week if we were lucky. Having produce on hand every week was a great incentive for us to incorporate more into our daily meals. 3. Trying new things. When it comes to food, I know what I like, and don’t often like to step outside my comfort zone. But when you have paid in advance for a box of deliciousness, you start to experiment a bit. The list of new vegetables and fruits we tried our first year was amazing. I didn’t realize how sheltered we were by only shopping our grocer’s produce aisle. New favorites in our house became kohlrabi, “dinosaur” kale, golden beets, leeks, spaghetti squash and eggplant. 4. Educating our children about the benefits of eating healthier. After a few short weeks into our first CSA summer, the kids became more involved and excited about what the box each week would bring. Always volunteering to go with me to the pick up site, and not even waiting to get the box to the car before they tore into it! (There was a lot of taste testing in the car on the way home.) They weren’t picky eaters, but they definitely didn’t embrace vegetables on their plates. Our CSA offers tours, and we took one early in the summer. The process of visually seeing where and how the crops were grown opened their eyes and tastebuds up even more! My youngest now requests Kale anytime we are at the store, and eats it raw – yes raw. So now you want to find your own CSA don’t you? Head on over to www.localharvest.org and search for CSAs that are available in your area.
Tricia is Founder of Once A Month Mom, a freezer cooking website dedicated to helping families lift the burden of meal planning and preparation by providing monthly menus using seasonal recipes to create ready-to-heat and serve meals. In four years she has grown this website at an aggressive pace helping hundreds of thousands of families the world over serve dinner without all the fuss. She has also authored two ebooks, Survive Before 5: Toddler Meals for Busy Your Busy Days and Holiday eCookbook 2010. She lives in Dayton, Ohio with her husband and two young children where she they love exploring new foods and escaping to any and all warm places.