As food has become big business it has become harder to know where the food we eat actually comes from. If you don’t have time or space to grow your own food, there is one way to make sure you know where your food is coming from, join a CSA and actually be able to shake the hand of the person who grew what you are going to eat.
I’ve known about CSAs for some time but had hesitated from joining one for a couple of reasons. They do require you to pay upfront for several months worth of food. You are uncertain if you will actually get enough food in your share. You have no control of the food you get each week. You may have to drive a bit farther to get your share then you would if you were going to the grocery store. It means you have to commit to a set day, and sometimes a general time, to pick up your groceries. You may also have to volunteer.
In the spring, I finally decided to put aside all of these concerns and we joined not just one, but two CSAs. We joined one CSA for our eggs and vegetables and another for meat (beef, pork and lamb. We also included 2 whole chickens in our first order.) I could not be happier with this decision. The quality of the food is amazing – the first time I cooked some of the beef my husband asked if I had cooked it in bacon fat, the flavor was that rich. It has also encouraged me to cook outside the box since I have no control over what I get I’m forced to work with whatever shows up in my share.
We do usually have to supplement with a few things bought from either the farm stand or a grocery store, but it has really improved our grocery bill overall. Another thing to be aware of is that this is not mass produced food, so there will be some imperfections. The veggies will still taste amazing they just might not look as pretty. The last thing to know is that depending on where you live your CSA might only provide produce for part of the year – our meat CSA provides year round, though we do have to do a bulk delivery in the summer to avoid defrosting, but our produce CSA only has weekly shares from June – November and monthly shares in the winter months.
It might require a little research to find a CSA in your area and you’ll want to make sure that you agree with their agricultural practices, but in my experience it is definitely worth it. Even if you can’t get to a CSA, try to find a local farmer’s market and see what you can get there – you’re still supporting community agriculture and get to meet the people who are involved in your food.
We use Garden of Eve (located on Long Island) for our vegetables and eggs (they also do fruit, cheese, flowers and meat shares) and 8 O’Clock Ranch for our meat (they are located in upper New York state.)