Community Supported Agriculture: Buying Local Food Direct
Over the last couple decades, CSAs (or farm shares, as they are commonly known) have become increasingly popular. CSAs allow consumers to purchase food directly from a local farmer.
Farmers sell a number of “shares” that can be bought by the public. Generally, each share amounts to a box of vegetables, but some farmers also offer meat, dairy, or fruit products.
There are some great advantages to buying into a CSA program–for both consumers and for farmers. If you’re interested in eating local and supporting local farmers, there are a number of reasons why you should consider purchasing a subscription to a farm share.
Consumer Benefits of Farm Shares
One of the major benefits is that food from farm shares is super fresh and lasts significantly longer. Food that is purchased from supermarkets can take a remarkably long time on its journey from farm to shelf. As a result, it’s often only usable for a number of days or a week, at most.
Produce from farm shares, on the other hand, typically stays fresh for several weeks, giving you a great deal more flexibility in what you prepare and when. Fresh food also tastes better and often retains more nutrients than its stale supermarket counterparts.
With the food you receive from farm shares, you never know what you’re going to get–and that’s a good thing. While it what you get depends on what’s in season, you’re likely to encounter a number of vegetables that you may have never even heard of before. You’ll be exposed to delicious new products and possibilities that will change your cooking and dietary habits forever.
Buying from CSAs also means you’re eating locally, which significantly reduces your carbon footprint by shortening the trip that your food takes to get to you.
Farmer Benefits of Farm Shares
Farmers also benefit from CSAs. By selling shares upfront, they can spend their time marketing between harvests, allowing them to focus on growing, harvesting, and distributing when their produce is in season. They also receive payment upfront, helping with cash flow–which is a common problem for farms due to their intermittent productivity.
To find a CSA in your area, visit LocalHarvest and use their handy search service.
[Photocredit: SouthsideCommunityGardens; FourObsessions]